Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Perfect Home

  The Eye of the Emerald Mandala and it's matching coasters didn't stay in my house for very long. I really do love the design, but choosing to use white yarn in a project is always a bad idea for me. White anything is a bad idea around here... It usually ends up coming into contact with Rip's concrete dust and gets transformed into a not-so-lovely shade of grey. And then there's those times when he comes home with truck grease on him, and things just get destroyed.

  When my dad mentioned he liked the colors, I knew the set had found its perfect home. (Dad knows how to wash his hands when he gets dirty, so I know it's in a safe place now.😉) Sometimes I just get ideas I want to create, but maybe they don't really have a purpose yet. It makes me really happy when they find the right person or place  instead of being shoved in a box and forgotten.


Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project


  It makes me even happier when I get pictures of my project being displayed in its perfect home. Some things get forgotten, but there are other projects that have left my hands that forever leave me wondering... What did they do with it? Is it still being used? (Especially when you give someone a wearable, but you never see them wearing it; Am I right?) Some of those things have been sold, so once they leave my hands it's none of my business and I might never see that person again, anyway. But those things that are gifted... It's extra-special to know that they're being used and treated well.


Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project, phalaenopsis


  You know what's even better than that? It's when you get reminded of one of those forgotten projects, too. I was distracted at first, comparing how the green pairs nicely with the decor of the house and checking out the awesome blooms on that phalaenopsis... 



Sidetrack: Dad is a first-time orchid grower, and he got it to bloom the first year. With more than one spike. And like, perfect blooms. 😲


  Back to the subject: Check out what else is on the table. I see another creation of mine! It's those butterfly stitch doilies that will never be properly recreated because of a notebook-eating dog. I briefly considered trying to re-make the pattern again using the pictures I have of them, but there's a reason I've decided not to. 



Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project, butterfly doilies


  Sort of like the same conclusion I came to with Mom's Afghan, I no longer think every project needs to be shared with the world. Maybe I'll share pictures of it with you, but you won't always get every pattern I create... Be it for free or at all. Sometimes I decide I've put too much work into something to let it go for nothing, but there's other times I just want a project to remain one-of-a-kind.

  Maybe it's me overthinking things (I usually do), but I sort of felt bullied into always sharing my patterns when I began designing. Not really "bullied"; perhaps more like pushed mentally, by myself. (Can you really bully yourself? Overthinking again.) Whatever the feeling... I'm trying to make a career out of this, and you don't make it by holding back.

  But you don't have to give it all away, either. You can exhaust yourself by never keeping a small piece of something just for you. And (overthinking some more) maybe that thing for "yourself" isn't in your possession; possibly you hardly ever see it and sometimes forget it exists until you see it again... But it's always a nice little "Ooo, I made that!" reminder that somebody enjoys that thing you made. It's even more special when you know that it's a one-of-a-kind thing that nobody else will ever have.


Happy Crocheting!

(And thanks for the pictures, Dad!)

Friday, March 24, 2017

One Down...

  Arg! I seriously need to do something about my internet speed. One of my goals when getting the new camera was to concentrate on making more videos, and I've been sticking to it. But when you combine might-as-well-be-dial-up speeds with the only format my camera records in (.mov), you get the worst uploading time ever. One video down, a bunch more to go...


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I've had many requests for a video to make plarn, and I've finally succeeded in getting them done. To make it easier for crafters to find what they're looking for, I've split these into two separate tutorials: The one available now is for the spiral-cut method. It's a little more detailed and  a longer video, so I thought I'd get that one worked out first. (Psst... You can use this method to create t-shirt yarn, too.)


Now the short video for the loop-method will be a quick job, right?


  Wrong. I hit "upload" at that time of day when my internet company provides me with slower speeds so everyone else can have their share of the web... Something I've never understood. I pay for a connection that's supposed to be a certain speed. Why do I start experiencing "interruptions" because I'm using it more than others? It's mine and I want it all! Seriously, I need someone to explain that one to me.


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I get the .MOV problem, though - It's not a compressed file, so it takes longer to upload. It takes about nine hours for me to convert a 10-minute video into an MP4, which horribly reduces the quality. Then, it takes another five hours to upload the compressed version to YouTube. For now, I'm just fighting with uploading the raw files.

  Making the video is getting easier with each one I do. Can you believe I would actually get nervous and start shaking just because I'm talking to a camera? I'm getting over that and learning how to improve my tutorials. And I'm learning how to edit them better so I can include more information. But the one thing I haven't gained knowledge to is: "How can I improve my YouTube uploading speed without paying for a better connection?"

  Google that phrase and you'll be directed to the program that's supposed to help... The program I downloaded, spent hours learning, and discovered it takes nine hours to convert a file into a format that ruins the quality and still takes hours to upload. *SIGH* Seems like less work to just wait for the .MOV to upload. Anyone have a better idea?


Okay, thanks for listening. I just needed to get that off my mind. Now here, have a video:




Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mess or Masterpiece?

  Today, I need your help making a decision. I started a new project that has left me both eager to continue and doubtful of whether I should. And I know, I'm not supposed to be starting anything else. But you know how that goes!

  In a recent yarn review, I mentioned another yarn from my stash. Once upon a time I started buying this yarn while it was on sale, planning on making a blanket. (This isn't part of the "From the Stash" series, btw; this one is purely my fault.) The sale ended before I scored enough skeins for the project. Mentioning the yarn in that review made me start thinking, and I went to dig it out of the mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  I like to play with yarns that have variegated or multi-colors. I love seeing the different ways the color can play out; trying new ways to get designs from it. Do you ever do that? It doesn't always end in a successful pattern, but it's something quiet for me to do when I'm bored or tired of everything else. Just pull a few yards from the skein, make some stitches, rip it back, try again with different stitches. None of it ever has a purpose other than to amuse me.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  In that review, I highlighted the durability of Impeccable yarn. The pile you see has taken ripping back a lot of times now, and it's no worse for the wear. Perhaps this color would be difficult, but I think this would be a great yarn for beginners to practice with. It rarely splits, rips back smoothly, and it's easy-care for the finished project, too.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  But, let's not get sidetracked any longer... This isn't a yarn review, I'm here for an opinion! This time, my playing around produces something with potential. I made something that I think I like. It's just a little swatch right now, and I would like to create it in full and write a pattern. But it's just one of those things I can't make a decision about. I thought I should bring my problem here for your help.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  I will say that if I do continue with it, then I'll be selling the pattern on Ravelry. It won't be free here. BUT! If you're a Ravelry member and you leave a comment here to help, then I'll gift you the pattern when/if I get it done (it will be a scarf). And remember, that's if I get it done... I just can't make up my mind whether I've created a masterpiece or a mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  It's a pretty interesting design that I hope you'll enjoy working. It starts with the middle first, made as one long "chain" of textured stitches without a true beginning chain. The rest is created in the round as a border. I think it's fun to watch it go from "what is that?" to "ooo, lacy scarf". At first, I looked at my design and loved it. But the more I studied it, I thought it looks a little messy from different angles.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  So the questions are: Does it look like a mess to you? Do I continue with the pattern? I'll possibly be changing the ends to something less-pointy. Maybe I'll leave it like it is. Would it be cool to add some fringe to the ends as-is, or would it look like curtain tassels hanging in a group from the point? Maybe no fringe at all, because the design is pretty bold as it is. I know, I know... Somebody is going to tell me it's my opinion as the designer, and I should create what I want... This is one of those times I just can't decide what I want. I'd love to hear your opinions.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


 The promise I'm making to you may be a little weird... What if you leave a comment telling me you hate it, then I make it anyway? Am I supposed to stick to my word and gift you a pattern you don't like? *Sigh* Yes, it will be a hard promise to fulfill in that case. But if you do want to see this pattern finished, then don't forget to leave a comment on this post with your opinion! Having you all here in one place will make it easy for me to track everyone down when it comes time for your gift. If you don't have a Google profile and want to leave the comment anonymously, you'll need to drop your Ravelry name in the comment.



Happy Crocheting!

PS - Can you believe the hook size I'm using to create this with worsted weight yarn? The stitch clusters get too tight with a smaller hook, so I had to go this big. I was afraid it would cause the stitches to be too loose, but so far it's only caused a fast-working pattern. I may even break out the big plastic hooks and see if I can go one size bigger for a super-speedy project. But that all depends on your opinions!

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

Monday, March 20, 2017

Soft & Shiny Review

  Ever since I picked up a skein of Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny on a whim, I've been waiting for the perfect project to test it out. It looked like a super-catchy yarn to frog, so I didn't want to go playing with it for no reason. The project has finally been put to the works, and after just a few squares I can confidently give you my opinion about working with it.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  To be nice, the first thing I can mention is the feature that caught my eye: It looks so soft and shiny. Especially in this grey color, the yarn has an almost-metallic sheen to it. The result when worked up reflects light to give the solid color some dimension. The name of this yarn is no lie! It is definitely both soft and shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Unfortunately, that's where the good points stop. After my fiasco with Facets by the same brand, I noticed some similarities with this lighter-weight yarn. (I don't usually compare yarns in reviews, but I will be doing it this time.) The spin seems to be a little loose, making it prone to splitting. And the fluffiness of that loose spin gets caught on itself, indeed making ripping back more of a pain than it needs to be. Yup, very similar. What I wonder is - Will it be the same disaster as Facets when it comes to washing?

  Typically, I'll start with whatever hook size might be recommended on the label. For this 100% acrylic worsted weight (4) yarn, a 4 mm hook is called for. After struggling with splitting just through the beginning chain of five, I switched to a larger hook. This made the problem worse and I found some luck with using a smaller 3.75 mm instead.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  I'm a little doubtful about that "worsted" part... It looks like worsted. It feels like worsted from the skein. But once it's on the hook, it works up more like DK (3) weight. I'd call it a light-worsted. That loose spin seems to give the yarn room to squish down and become smaller than it appears. I tested this square pattern with the usual acrylic worsted I use and the same hook size. The motif turned out to be almost an inch bigger than the ones I'm making with Soft & Shiny!

  I don't want to bring the other yarn into the picture because it's in no way similar to what we have here and not really fair to compare (it's one of my two favorites so if you know me, you know it). However, the results proved that this is surely a light-weight worsted weight. The pattern turned out stiff as a board when worked up in that other yarn with this small hook; the open chain spaces were barely visible. Soft & Shiny produced a delicate square that didn't compare to any of my "everyday" worsted weights.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, my friends, let's bring in another yarn... This yarn's competitor needs to be put to the test. I have to be blunt and say there's no doubt this yarn is a pure knock-off of Caron Simply Soft. That's why I bought it. Again, from the skein itself: Soft & Shiny feels softer and looks shinier than Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  And remember - We're talking about from the skein, not when worked up. Both yarns appear to be the same weight. Holding a strand of each at the same time, you couldn't tell the difference other than from softness... Well, you can feel that Simply Soft has a much tighter twist than Soft & Shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, forget the feel; let's get technical. The actual width of Soft & Shiny (grey) is a little thicker than Simply Soft (blue). However, Simply Soft has more wraps per inch (wpi) than Soft & Shiny. When you get down to the nitty gritty science of yarn, these two don't compare one bit! Simply Soft might look like the lighter weight yarn to the eyes, but Soft & Shiny is less dense when it comes to fiber content.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  The loose spin may give the appearance of a thicker yarn, but keep in mind that it's just empty space between the fiber. That empty space compresses under tension, so you don't get the same results as with a tighter-spun yarn. Same hook; same pattern again:

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Working the motif again with Simply Soft produced closer results than my other worsted-weight yarn. Close, but still not the same. I quite fell in love with this combination of colors while comparing Soft & Shiny to its competitor, and had an idea to use them together in a project. Now I know that if I attempt it, I'll have to change hook sizes to get the same gauge from Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Comparing texture once worked up: They look exactly the same (other than gauge). Both have that slight bit of fuzz, but Soft & Shiny wins at being softer. I've had plenty of experience with (machine) washing and drying Simply Soft in the past, never having any problems other than a few loose ends popping out. I'm skeptical that Soft & Shiny will turn out the same. Then again, perhaps that opinion is influenced by it's similarities to Facets.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  As for that project with these colors combined: I found (almost) the same blue available from Soft & Shiny. Even though I do have a desire to be able to wash and wear these yarns together to put them to the ultimate test, I'm not sure I want to fight with scoring the correct gauge out of two different weights. Although my original opinion was to leave this yarn behind me and never buy another skein, I just might have to get some of that blue to finish the pattern.

  And if you ask why I'm so eager to turn my back on Soft & Shiny, I'll tell you the honest truth: Price $$$. Loops & Threads yarns can only be purchased through Michaels stores. Caron Simply Soft is available there and at Walmart (sometimes, ugh), Joann, and from multiple online sources.

  Disregarding the price from other stores, I compared cost just at Michaels. Soft & Shiny is currently $3.99 for 6 oz/ 311 yards. Simply Soft has now been reduced to $2.49 for 6 oz/ 315 yards (smaller skeins in Heathers). Simply Soft is known for splitting as it is, and Soft & Shiny is ten times worse with a gauge that doesn't match any other yarn. Should I ever pay more for a bigger headache that's available in less colors? I think not.

Happy Crocheting!

PS- I do always feel bad when I have to give such a harsh review, but it's the truth. Since this is now two yarns in a row from this company that I'd rather not use again, I would like to steer you in the direction of some of their good yarns:

  • A great replacement for Facets is Charisma. It can't really compare in texture or colors, but you get a great fast-working bulky (5) acrylic that holds up well to washing with a slight amount of fuzz - And no "cotton candy" pull-apart spots. Still a bit prone to splitting, I find it best to work with a smaller hook than recommended. The downfall is that Charisma's 3.5 oz/ 109 yard skeins disappear quickly into a project. But to combat that problem, the price has now been reduced to $2 a ball.  (I currently have a WIP using a bigger hook than recommended - I've found that making a conscious effort to loosen my tension helps with splitting, and you can stretch the yarn a bit father with a larger hook. Win!)

  • Looking for a worsted weight like Soft & Shiny? (But obviously not the same gauge, lol.) Impeccable might not have that fuzzy kind of softness, but it has durability to make up for that. Available in a large assortment of solids and interesting variegated shades (most of which are usually unavailable in my local store), this is a yarn you just can't go wrong with. It works up well without splitting and takes washing like an old-time rug yarn, but lacks the prickly stiffness of something so durable. And on top of all that softness, strength, and broad color palette, now this yarn is also only $2 per 4.5 oz/ 277 yard skein!? (I think I just found the right colors for a long-envisioned project, too.) Okay, see you later! I have to go shopping now.

😀 


Friday, March 17, 2017

Fighting the Freeze

  Hey, Mother Nature! Are you feeling alright? Because the last time I checked, I live in Florida. And there was a bunch of beautiful flowers in my yard that say it's springtime. Last weekend was lovely. I was walking around in shorts and a tank top. But now I'm thinking you're off your game. I wore a jacket and a scarf yesterday. This morning, I had to pry the pans off the ground to feed the outside cats. You already got those pretty flowers. And today, Mother Nature, I'm not happy that you're trying to freeze my husband. 

  I made Rip van Winkle a ninja mask (balaclava) to help him fight the freeze. Today... Wait, I haven't been to bed yet, so today-to-me is yesterday in real-time... Anyway, when he came home from work, he told me he had an early morning the next day (which is actually today). Knowing it was already cold and going to get worse, I pulled out a skein of yarn and grabbed a hook.

ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, WIP

  It was 9 p.m. and 46° when I started. I didn't have long to finish. I worked in rounds of half-double crochet as for a hat until it reached eyebrow length. Then I broke the rounds and worked in rows, adding a 2-stitch increase every two rows (one stitch at each end). At 10:30 and 43°, the piece narrowed in just under the nose, so I made a chain across and worked a round again.

  I didn't like how that looked, so I ripped it back. Before chaining across, I worked down the post spaces of the rows, making a decrease between the side posts and the stitches across (which would be the skipped stitches of the hat piece). Worked even across; another decrease between the last stitch and the first side post of the opposite side. Worked even up the side, chained across, and joined.
  
ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, WIP

  This join left me working in the opposite direction of the hat piece, so I chained and turned to go the right way. This let me chain over and begin in the large chain space across, and then I filled it with more half-double crochet. I made a decrease between the last stitch in the chain space and the first stitch worked into the rows. Worked even across, and made a decrease between the last stitch in the rows and one more stitch worked into the chain space (before the beginning stitch).

  You can see in the picture above that the piece will pucker when flat. I worked most of the stitches of the next round even, but made a 3-stitch decrease in the middle of the stitches in the chain space. This created a little shaping that will allow Rip to pull the mask over his nose while he's out in the elements on the job. (It doesn't fit well on Head, because she doesn't have average human proportions, plus her female features don't work well for modeling a pattern that fits a man.)

ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, WIP

  At 12 a.m. and 39°, I spread a few more decreases across the back side around the neck This tightened it up just a bit to help it stay over the nose, and gives a little comfort room when down over the mouth. It was just two decreases the next round, each even with the opening of the face-hole. The following round, I made each decrease to the outside of the previous round's decreases.

  And that was it. Any tighter and he wouldn't be able to pull it over his head... I wish I had time to work it in the super-stretchy double crochet cross-stitch! I worked even until I ran out of yarn, which left the mask covering his neck just to the collar line. I cut the yarn at 12:30 and in under a minute had the tail woven in. I took a little time to take the rest of the pictures in this post.

ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, finished project

  At 12:45 and 38°, I filled his thermos with hot water to pre-heat it. (Tip alert, btw! I'm surprised how many people don't know you're supposed to do that.) I turned on the coffee maker and went back to dig out the first mask he requested me to make so I could compare them... The one I listened to his opinion about how to make:

ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, finished project, homespun, Lion Brand

  Wait, before you think it's not that bad; I really worked it into place to get it to it look nicer for that photo. Anyway: He saw the yarn; he asked for me to make it. He sat through the process of creation, telling me he thought it should be this way or that... Many times I told him why it probably should be another way. No matter how many times I tried to explain that "how it looks right now isn't how it will be", he couldn't understand the concept of shaping. Let me put it back on the model without working it around, so you can see what it looks like when Rip wears it:

ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, finished project, homespun, Lion Brand

  He kept telling me to make it longer. I told him "for it to be that long, I'll have to flare it out to fit around your shoulders". He didn't want that; it would look like a bib. He wanted to be able to tuck it under his shirt. (Ahem... See previous explanation?) Nope, he wanted it to stay narrow and tuck in. Which is why it fits all bunched up like in the picture above. As a result, he never wears it.

  1 a.m, 37°. His alarm goes off. Repeatedly, for ten minutes. He never moves. I pour the hot water out of the thermos, dry it and fill it with coffee. I pack his lunch, wishing he would stop eating Doritos every single day before he dies of diabetes. That one's a battle I can't win... But I hope my last-minute project helps him fight the battle of the cold out there tonight.
 
ninja mask, balaclava, crochet, finished project

  1:30, still 37°. I'm sure it will be freezing before the sun comes up. He stumbles out of bed and I pour him a cup of coffee. As he chugs the brown fuel of the working and gets his things together, I explain that his ninja mask is ready. "Really?" he asks... Yes, really. He tried it on before leaving, and remembered to take it with him. I didn't get a thank-you, but he did say it fits good. I can't expect much when he has to be out the door before 2 a.m.

  6:30, 34° according to the thermometer. Ice on the ground, wilted flowers everywhere. He had to be on the job by 3 a.m., so he's been out there for a while now. I hope the mask is helping him stay warm. It will be another hour before sunup and I bet it will get colder until then. 


  Well, Mother Nature, I won my race against Father Time. Now Rip has to fight his battle with you and Jack Frost. I gave him a pretty good weapon. I couldn't save my flowers, but your damage will just make them come back stronger. And I've kinda got you beat on that too, because I've already preserved them forever in photos. Now I'll share them here so they can be remembered by all:

flowers, amaryllis, red, bulb, Florida

flowers, amaryllis, red, bulb, Florida

flowers, amaryllis, red, bulb, Florida


Happy Crocheting!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

WTF a WIP

  No, that's not the usual use of the WTF acronym, but my WIP's are still works in progress... I'm "waiting to fmelt". It's been a while since I've made a project doing this, so many of you have no clue what I'm talking about. "Fmelting" is a word I came up with to describe the hardening of plarn into solid plastic: Felting + melting = Fmelting!

plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, WIP, fmelting


  That explanation sounds like gibberish. Okay, useless non-words aside... If you've ever worked with Perler/fuse beads, this works the same way. (The same, but with plastic yarn that's been crocheted.) You apply heat to the plastic until it fuses together, but there's a fine line between fused and melted through when it comes to more delicate plarn like I'm using. You can get the original tutorial for how to fmelt plarn here.


  I'm waiting to fmelt because I like to have the windows open when I do it, in case of harmful fumes. There doesn't seem to be any, but, you know... Melting plastic. It doesn't smell pretty, either. It's a very minimal smell, but it's a smell nonetheless. I want my windows open, but it's 40° outside. In Florida. In the springtime. Ugh. At least it's not snowing - Yet. Nature went all "WTF" on us (that's Winter To Florida this time).


plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, WIP, fmelting

  I know, I know, get to the point, right? WTF this project is driving me nuts! (Back to Waiting To Fmelt again.) Can you imagine crocheting paper plate holders? I can't believe I'm doing this, but I am. Recycled plastic paper plate holders, so you can recycle while you use more disposable items that will end up in a landfill. It seems a bit contradictory, but it's an idea I've had for a while and I just want to make it.


plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, WIP, fmelting

  This disgusting floppy mess will become a hardened plastic plate holder if all goes well. I made a not-a-mistake on the first design that I'll fix on the rest, so I want to use this not-a-mistake version to test out the fmelting temperature. And I'm trying to figure out if I can make a video during the process with the future versions, but I have horrible lighting in my kitchen. The kitchen is the only place I have a solid surface next to a power outlet for the iron.


plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, WIP, fmelting

  The not-a-mistake was a result of exhaustion. (I've slept about eight hours in the past week...) I had the wrong hook size for the weight of the plarn, and the work was bunching up with six multiples in the first round. I thought it would be neat to keep the density of the stitches by removing a multiple. And that left me turning a pentagon into a circle, which I did. But the pattern turns out harder to work in the end.


  I think I'll still keep the same hook size, and go back to the multiple of six. The ruffle can be worked out by increasing less in the following rounds. Being tired makes you think harder than you have to sometimes. Wouldn't it be so much easier to work a few rounds the same, with no increases at all? Then you're not stuck with a pattern of "increase here, don't increase there; Do it in a different order the next round". Just simple granny stitch simplicity.



  WTF. (Well, time flies.) I meant to try to go to bed tonight, but I spent too much time working on another project. Here it's three in the morning and Rip will have to be awoken from his slumber soon. I might as well stay up - Two alarm clocks and a phone won't wake him up. On that note - I'll leave you with a story about a Rip-snoring-3a.m. time I really was saying the typical usage of WTF:

  This was years ago and proves he hasn't changed... We had installed new fire alarms in the house prior to the incident. Maybe three or four days afterward, I bolted out of bed at 3 a.m. to the sound of a screeching alarm that also talks: Warning, warning; fire, fire. And Rip just snores away in bed.

Me: There's a fire, get up, get up!

Him: SNOOOOORE

Me: Get up! *shakes him* Get up! *kicks the bed* Get UP!

Him: (As the alarm is still screeching) Huh? WTF?

Me: WTF indeed! There's a fire, now get UP!

Him: What makes you think there's a fire?

Me: The FIRE alarm is going off; the house is on FIRE!

Him: No it's not. *rolls over* *snores*

Me: WTF.

  The house was never on fire. Every time you change the batteries (or install the new alarm), you have to run it through a test. If you don't, the things go off sometime when they decide to self-test themselves. I guess it figures a few days later at 3 a.m. is a great time to test your survival skills. As for me, I've put up with his symphony of alarms for long enough that I no longer bolt out of bed at every single noise. (I just never sleep now.) Rip van Winkle ten years later: Still snoring strong.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eye of the Emerald Mini Mandala

  These mini mandalas are so quick to work up. They make great matching coasters for the full-size Eye of the Emerald mandala if you plan to use it as a doily -or- If you plan to use it as an art piece, they could make neat accents to display with or attach to it. Instructions are giving for color changes to create both versions shown, or use up some scrap yarn making your own color combinations!

free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day


  Regardless of your plans for the pattern, this is a smaller, less ruffly version of its bigger sibling. (Smaller and faster with the same great picot texture!) The large mandala gave plenty of room to work out the ruffles caused by increasing, but this time we need it to stay flat for a short six rounds. So if you are here from working the large mandala, then please take note that this pattern is similar but not the same - The stitch counts for chain spaces and groups of stitches are changed.


free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day

Finished size: 
6" (15 cm) in diameter from point to point

Skill level:
Easy


Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I'm using Red Heart Super Saver in Paddy Green (color A) and White (color B)*
Crochet hook size J/10 - 6.00 MM
Yarn needle
Stitch marker (to mark beginning if needed)

*As noted in the pattern for the larger mandala, there is a chance that the white yarn I'm using is really Caron One Pound. (I'm already using the rest on another pattern, and the more I work with it, I think it is.)

Either way, they both work up in the same gauge.


Gauge:
Not important
Pattern measures 3" (7.5 cm) in diameter at round 3.


Notes:
Chain stitches at beginning of rounds do not count as stitches.

Most rounds are joined with half-double crochet stitches. When pattern instructs to work into "half-double crochet joining space", you will begin the round by working over the post of the joining stitch.

New colors are joined with standing crochet stitches. If you are unfamiliar with this method, you can join new colors with a slip stitch, chain 1, and make the beginning stitch.

The picot stitch for the final round has been altered to a chain-2 picot. You can work a regular picot if you like, your finished size will be slightly larger.


Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Slip stitch
Single crochet
Half double crochet
Double crochet

*Picot (worked slightly different than usual - check out the matching pattern for photo examples) - Chain 3, insert hook in the front loop and bottom bar of last stitch (from left to right); slip stitch. (Read note regarding this stitch before working round 6.)


Instructions:

The pattern looks the same for both versions, but the written instructions change just a bit for different color changes. 

Under the number of the round you will find the color changes, and at the end of the round instructions you will find additional instructions in bold. If there are no instructions, continue working with current color.


This is version 1:
free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day


This is version 2:
free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day



Round 1:
Both versions: Color B
Begin with a magic circle. Chain 1 (does not count as stitch), single crochet in the ring.
(Chain 2, single crochet) 5x in the ring.
Half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join. (Counts as chain-2 space)
Both versions: Bind off and weave in ends for color change.
(6 chain-2 spaces)


Round 2:
Both versions: Color A
Begin with a standing single crochet in the joining space. 
(Chain 2, single crochet in same, chain 1, single crochet in next space) 5x.
Half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet.
(12 chain-2 spaces)


Round 3:
Both versions: Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the joining space.
(Chain 2, single crochet in the next space) 11x.
Half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet.
Version 1: Bind off, weave in ends for color change.
(12 chain-2 spaces)


Round 4:
Version 1: Begin with color B and a standing single crochet in the joining space.
Version 2: Continuing with color A, chain 1 and single crochet in the joining space.
(Single crochet, picot, 2 single crochet) in each of the next 11 spaces.
(Single crochet, picot, single crochet) in the joining space.
Both versions: Bind off, pull tail through beginning single crochet and back through ending stitch to join.


Round 5:
Version 1: Color A
Version 2: Color B
Begin with a standing half-double crochet in the joining space.
(Half-double crochet, chain 3, half double crochet) in each of the next 11 spaces.
Half-double crochet in the joining space. Chain 1, half-double crochet to join (counts as chain-3 space).
(12 chain-3 spaces)


Round 6:
***The picot stitch in this round should be worked with just chain-2 before closing. You can still work a chain-3 picot for a slightly larger finished size.
Version 1: Color A
Version 2: Color B
Chain 1, (single crochet, slip stitch) in the joining space.
(Slip stitch, chain 1, single crochet, picot, 2 single crochet, slip stitch) in each of the next 11 spaces.
(Slip stitch, chain 1, single crochet, picot, single crochet) in the joining space.
Bind off, pull tail through beginning single crochet and back through ending stitch to join.


free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day

  The mandala and minis go well as a table set, but I suppose my table is a bit small for them without the extension installed... And I'm currently enjoying the extra space along with not having to lift that leaf. (Am I getting weak, or do they make those things with a lead core?) I played around with different ways it could be used on a smaller table, but just couldn't make them all fit together.


free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day

  I tried for another hour, rearranging and taking photos until I realized something: I'm Aries and Irish. No wonder I'm so stubborn! (I was doomed from the start.) I still think the whole set would look awesome displayed on the wall as an art piece... But I have to face the facts: It has white in it, which will never stay white in this house. It doesn't fit my table, and the colors don't match my decor. I enjoyed the design, but I think my dad likes it more than I do. He already has the perfect plan of where to use it, too. Well, that was easy! No more rearranging needed.


Happy Crocheting!

PS - Check out that picot texture!


free pattern, crochet, mandala, mini, coasters, green, St. Patty's Day, St. Patrick's Day


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Eye of the Emerald Mandala

  This mandala would look great in lots of color combinations, but I wanted to celebrate my Irish roots by creating something for upcoming St.Patty's Day. A skein of "Paddy Green" found in the stash seemed to be the perfect tribute. The emerald tone of the green inspired lace like the facets of a gemstone, and the picot edging is a little nod towards Irish lace... But much easier to work than most Irish lace!

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

  The picot stitches of round 20 stick up and make some neat texture around the edges of the mandala. However, if you would like them to sit flat to avoid an accidental drink spill when a cup gets placed on the bumpy round (because we know that would never happen, right?), just push them down between chain spaces when blocking. You could also work a chain-2 picot for a less pointy version.

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot


free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

Check out the pattern for the matching mini mandala! They make a great compliment to the large mandala whether you're using it as an art piece or a table set.


Finished size: 24" (61 cm) in diameter


Skill level:
Easy


Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I'm using Red Heart Super Saver in Paddy Green (color A) and White (color B)*
Crochet hook size J/10 - 6.00 MM
Yarn needle
Stitch marker (to mark beginning if needed)

*The entire pattern used 2oz (28 g) of color A and 3oz (85 g) of color B... Since I had no label attached to the scrap skein of White I used, there is a chance that it is actually Caron One Pound, which is a little heavier than Red Heart SS (but they both work up in the same gauge). If you happen to make this pattern using all Red Heart SS yarn (for sure) and you can weigh your finished project, I'd love if you could let me know so I can label my yarn. (Total weight is 5 oz, so if yours weighs in around 4.5 oz, then I'll know I was wrong.)


Gauge:
Not important.
First 2 rounds measure 3" (7.5 cm) across


Notes:
Chain stitches at beginning of rounds do not count as stitches.

Finished pattern will need a small amount of blocking. Some ruffling should be expected until working the final round.

Some rounds are joined with half-double or double crochet stitches to take the place of a chain space. When the next round instructs to work into the "half-double crochet joining space", you will be working over the post of the joining stitch.

New colors are joined with standing crochet stitches. If you are unfamiliar with this method, you can join with a slip stitch, chain 1, and make the beginning stitch.


Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Slip stitch
Single crochet
Half double crochet (only for joining rounds)
Double crochet
*Long double crochet - Yarn over and insert hook. Yarn over, pull up a long loop to stitch height. (Meaning: Pull it up high enough to be on top of the stitches you're working over.) (Yarn over, pull through 2 loops on hook) 2x.
Just like a double crochet, but with a longer bottom loop. Easy, right?

*Picot (worked slightly different than usual) - Chain 3, insert hook in the front loop and bottom bar of last stitch (from left to right); slip stitch.

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot



Instructions:


free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot


Round 1:
Color A
Begin with a magic circle. Chain 1 (does not count as stitch), single crochet in the ring.
(Chain 3, single crochet) 5x more.
Chain 1, make a half double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join.
(6 chain-3 spaces)

Round 2:
Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the half-double crochet joining space.
[Chain 3. (Single crochet, chain 3, single crochet) in the next chain-3 space] 5x.
Single crochet in the beginning space. Chain 1, use a half double crochet to join.
(12 chain-3 spaces)

Round 3:
Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the half-double crochet joining space.
(Chain 3, single crochet in the next space) 11x.
Chain 1, half-double crochet to join. Bind off to change colors.
(12 chain-3 spaces)

Round 4:
Color B
Begin with a standing single crochet in the half-double crochet joining space.
Make 5 single crochet in each of the following chain-3 spaces around (11x).
Work 4 single crochet in the joining space. Join with a slip stitch to beginning single crochet.
(12 "sets" of 5-single crochet)

Round 5:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the space between single crochet sets. (You will work over this stitch in round 6 with the long double crochet.)
(Chain 5, single crochet in the next space between sets) 11x.
Chain 2, double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join. Bind off to change colors.
(12 chain-5 spaces)

Round 6:
Color A
Begin with a standing single crochet in the double crochet joining space. Chain 3.
(Make 3 long double crochet over the single crochet of the previous round. Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-5 space. Chain 3) 11x.
Make 3 long double crochet over the last single crochet. Chain 1, half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join.
(24 chain-3 spaces)

Round 7:
Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the joining space.
(Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-3 space) 23x.
Chain 1, half double crochet to join.
(24 chain-3 spaces)

Round 8:
Color A
Repeat as for round 7.

Round 9:
Color A
Repeat as for round 7. Bind off to change colors.

Round 10:
Color B
Begin with a standing single crochet in the joining space.
Make 5 single crochet in each of the following chain-3 spaces around (23x).
Work 4 single crochet in the joining space. Join with a slip stitch to the beginning single crochet.
(24 "sets" of 5-single crochet)

Round 11:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the space between single crochet sets. (You will work over this stitch in round 12 with the long double crochet.)
(Chain 5, single crochet in the next space between sets) 23x.
Chain 2, double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join. Bind off to change colors.
(24 chain-5 spaces)

Round 12:
Color A
Begin with a standing single crochet in the double crochet joining space. Chain 3.
(Make 3 long double crochet over the single crochet of the previous round. Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-5 space. Chain 3) 23x.
Make 3 long double crochet over the last single crochet. Chain 1, half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join.
(48 chain-3 spaces)

Round 13:
Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the double crochet joining space.
(Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-3 space) 47x.
Chain 1, half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet.
(48 chain-3 spaces)

Round 14:
Color A
Repeat as for round 13.

Round 15:
Color A
Repeat as for round 13. Bind off to change colors.

Round 16:
Color B
Begin with a standing single crochet in the half-double crochet joining space.
Make 5 single crochet in each of the following chain-3 spaces around (47x).
Work 4 single crochet in the joining space. Join with a slip stitch to the beginning single crochet.
(48 "sets" of 5-single crochet)

Round 17:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the space between single crochet sets.
(Chain 5, single crochet in the next space between sets) 47x.
Chain 2, double crochet in the beginning single crochet to join.
(48 chain-5 spaces)

Round 18:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the double crochet joining space.
(Chain 4, single crochet in the next chain-5 space) 47x.
Chain 1, half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet.
(48 chain-4 spaces)

Round 19:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the double crochet joining space.
(Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-4 space) 47x.
Chain 1, half-double crochet in the beginning single crochet.
(48 chain-3 spaces)

Round 20:
Color B
Chain 1, single crochet in the half-double crochet joining space.
(2 single crochet, picot, 3 single crochet) in each chain-3 space around (47x).
(2 single crochet, picot, 2 single crochet) in the joining space.
(This still counts as 48 "sets" of 5 single crochet, disregarding the picot in the count.)

Bind off, insert hook in beginning single crochet. Yarn over with tail, pull through. Insert hook from the bottom up through the ending stitch, pull tail through.
(This can also be done with the tail on a yarn needle if you prefer.)

Round 21:
Color A
Begin with a standing double crochet in the space between sets of single crochet.
(Double crochet, chain 5, double crochet) in the space between each of the following sets (47x).
Double crochet in the beginning space, Chain 2, double crochet in the standing double crochet to join.
(48 chain-5 spaces)

Round 22:
Color A
Chain 1, single crochet in the double crochet joining space. Slip stitch in the same space.
(Slip stitch, chain 1, 2 single crochet, picot, 3 single crochet, slip stitch) in each of the following chain-5 spaces (47x).
(Slip stitch, chain 1, 2 single crochet, picot, 2 single crochet) in the joining space.

Bind off, insert hook in beginning single crochet. Yarn over with tail, pull through. Insert hook from the bottom up through the ending stitch, pull tail through.

Weave in ends; dampen slightly to block.


free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

  Now - If you know me, then you know I don't like making patterns that require heavy blocking. This one needs a little help, but it doesn't have to be pinned out. Just shape the dampened project on a towel and keep flat until dry. No extra work!

  If you would like to pin it out anyway, you can make it a little bigger. The lace has enough stretch to increase to 25" (63.5 cm) in diameter. Also for more work: I suppose you could also starch it if you want, but there's no need unless you're making it into a wall hanging.


  And again, if you know me, then you know I always see more than just crochet in designs. There's always some color, a feature, or texture that inspires more than meets the eye to most. My favorite part of this pattern isn't the lace or the picots (well, kinda), and it's certainly not the color. My favorite part is when the sun is shining through the window, starting in the early afternoon. The texture of the picot edge makes the coolest shadows to one side of the mandala, and they move around it like a sundial as the day progresses into the evening. So it's not the picots themselves, but the shadows around them that I like:

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

  What's your favorite part of this pattern? And what colors would you make it in? Do you like the first round of picots sticking up for texture, or would you flatten them out? I know that's a lot of questions, but I'm curious to know! And one more thing... Would you be willing to wait a day or two for a smaller matching pattern to become available? (It's available here now!)

free pattern, crochet, doily, mandala, Irish, St.Patty's Day, St.Patrick's Day, lace, picot

Hmm... What will it be? No sneak peeks this time! But I bet you can guess what it is...


Happy Crocheting!