Saturday, April 25, 2015

WBS Blanket Progress: A Look at a Finished Blanket






Blanket One: We're almost done!
Join me in my journey to become part of a world record - Let's help make the squares that will create the World's Biggest Stocking!

To learn more about the project from its creators, click on the World's Biggest Stocking button in the right sidebar.

To find out what drove me to make more than one blanket for the project, see this Yarn Tales Tuesday post.




  This is just an update. No tutorial; no instructions. In the last progress post, I shared my problems with my cursed skein of yarn. I think I may have angered the troll by talking about him! He must have been behind me, reading about my cookie trick. Now he's on to me and he's acting out to let me know that he knows... First, I'll show you a (sloppy) sneak peek at one of the finished blankets. Then, allow me to complain explain:










  I was behind in my work on the "in the round" version of the blanket because of a (troll) tangled skein. While I was untwisting loops and removing loose strands, that darn troll must have hopped out of that skein and right into this project, because it all went downhill from there!  First, I missed he made me miss a corner stitch. And of course, I only found it after I finished the round and had the ends woven in. So, I had to pick out the tail, unravel my work all the way to the first full corner, and begin again.



  I finished that round, moved on to - and almost finished the next round. Almost. When I went to join the round to the beginning chain, I discovered that I messed up again the troll had used his evil magic to turn it into a chain-3 instead of the needed chain-6. Darn that troll. Time to unravel again.



  I completed the round, bound off, and finished weaving the tails in. On to the next color... But, maybe not. How about picking those ends back out, instead? I skipped The troll made me miss a chain-1 space, and the round was one (3 dc, ch-1) short. No way to fudge that. I had to listen to that frog again: Rip it, rip it, rip it. (I actually hear that in my head as I pull out stitches. Time to crank up the metal.)




  I gave up for the day, got some (needed) sleep, and worked with lightning-fast speed to catch up again. I'll have to be quick from now on, to avoid the troll's mischief. I think he doesn't want me to have a chance at winning that $5,000. Then, I might be able to afford some new corner of my living room office furniture and some organization stuff. And maybe I'll find where that little booger's hiding, and ring his mischievous little neck.




  I finally put a stop to his antics by just finishing this version of the blanket, which put me behind on the tutorial version. So, you get to see one version of the completed project before the next post. And I get to go to town to find a new backdrop that will hide my ugly house and unruly pets, so my wonderful readers have something pretty to look at. And so I don't have to stand on a chair with rolling wheels to take a picture. The blanket has spilled over my dinner table work surface, and I'm too vertically challenged to take a photo!










  And even though I know you guys probably don't care about love to see my animals, I'd love to provide a more professional-looking picture. Please give me a break again - I'm under attack by a run of bad luck an evil troll, remember? Just go ahead and comment on how bad handsome the dog is, and that you can barely see how cute the cat is.











  If you're new and interested in joining the Big Granny Square Blanket project, please click here to start from the beginning with my tutorial. Also if you're new, you can download all the patterns for the World's Biggest Stocking project here. You don't have to use Caron United to create a blanket, and you don't have to use the same colors as the pattern. Just make sure your finished size is 36" (91.5 cm) square, and try to keep the colors cheery. And remember - Now you could win $5,000! Get your blankets sent in (remember the required form!) by June 22, 2015 if you want a chance to win! 




  *Disclaimer: Just so you know, you can join the World's Biggest Stocking project without having to fear troll's wrath. And more importantly - I'm not (completely) nuts. The troll is imaginary. Just a funny little character to blame my mistakes on. I just need to pay more attention to what I'm doing. Please don't start to worry about my mental health. Remember - The troll is not real.




...Or is he?












Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Crochet for Earth Day!






  Repeat visitors know that I'm buried in charity projects right now, so all new free crochet patterns are on hold. But even if you've been here before (and especially if you haven't!), some of these older "throwback" patterns will be new to you!




  Do you know what the problem with having your free patterns on a blog is? The older ones often get overlooked. As much as we bloggers wish it was true, not many people endlessly browse your archive to read every word you've ever written. So, in honor of Earth Day, and to feed the need for patterns, let's have a list of the projects available on the Crochet is the Way blog that involve recycled or upcycled materials:







Click the pictures to follow the links:


  First, just in case you don't already know, let's see how to make plarn (plastic + yarn = plarn). What a throwback! This is my original tutorial, when the blog was brand new and I was working with a cell phone camera. So, it's not the greatest, but you can still use it! Even if you already do know how to make plarn, perhaps you haven't seen these methods before. In this tutorial, you will learn multiple ways to join strips:





  Now, let's have a newer tutorial! This one shows you the same spiral method of cutting, but here you'll learn how to cut and prep the material to equal #10 crochet thread. This tutorial even uses an upcycled drop spindle:




Now, for the patterns!


Plarn can cozy:



Plarn Ghost:



Poinsettia Flower Brooch:



Plarn Eggs:




Plarn Soap Dish:





"Fmelted" Plarn Coasters:




Matching Basket for coasters:




Festive Plarn Doily:




Plarn Welcome Mat:



"Fmelted" Plarn Toothbrush Holder:



Mixed Material Messenger Bag:





And don't forget what's available on Guidecentral:


Learn the "hottest" way to join plarn strips:



Make a cushy pencil grip:



Upcycle your old clothing into yarn:



And look for non-crochet related guides like this pet feeder:



Just click on my Guidecentral profile to see them all!


And search "alternative crochet material", "green project", or "recycled material" on the Crochet is the Way blog for more recycling ideas!




Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

WBS Blanket Progress: The Trouble with Trolls






Blanket One: A Big Giveaway and Cookies for a Troll
Join me in my journey to become part of a world record - Let's help make the squares that will create the World's Biggest Stocking!

To learn more about the project from its creators, click on the World's Biggest Stocking button in the right sidebar.

To find out what drove me to make more than one blanket for the project, see this Yarn Tales Tuesday post.




  Again, the further I progress in this project, the less I have to say in an introduction. In this post, we'll be adding the colors Dark Green and Fresh Green. You'll find another little tip for beginners, plus a big disappointment in a skein of my yarn. And at the end, (excuse me, I have to yell 'cause I'm excited...) CHECK OUT THE GIVEAWAY!! Let's cover the important stuff first:




  Remember as always, these patterns are not mine! If you're new to the Big Granny Square Blanket project, please click here to start from the beginning. Also if you're new, you can download all the patterns for the World's Biggest Stocking project here. You don't have to use Caron United to create a blanket, and the colors don't have to be the same as the pattern. Just make sure your finished size is 36" (91.5 cm) square, and try to keep the colors cheery. Now let's get to work!




The nice thing about a color-repeating granny square is that you can work without the pattern after the first colors are used. Just look at the work you've already done to know which color comes next!

And as always: After joining the new color (Dark Green, if you're following the pattern), the round begins as usual, with chain (ch) six, which counts as your beginning double crochet (dc) and the corner ch-3. You then make three more dc in the same space, and chain one before the next set of dc.

You will make *(3dc, ch 1) in each ch-1 space thirteen times before the next corner. In each corner ch-3 space, make (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, ch 1). 

A quirky little story before your tip:

  Please excuse the following not-so-perfect photo, for I'm actually upside down! My light box prevents me from taking the picture from the other side, so I had to bend over with my head on the table so I could (somewhat) see my camera screen. My other half often walks in on situations like this, only to say "what in the world are you doing this time?" ...Living the life of a crocheter/photographer/blogger.

  Now, here's that little tip for you "newbies"... Since I'm making two versions of this blanket, one in the round, and one turned each color change, it got me thinking: Do you know how to tell which is the "right" side?

Here, you see an example of the round being turned, so that the stitches are facing opposite directions.

You'll notice that the top loops of the stitches form a sideways "V" shape, almost like an arrow. No matter if you're right handed or left handed, this arrow will point towards your hook hand when working in the round. When you've turned a round or row, the "arrows" of the previous row will point towards your working yarn.

I won't be turning the next round, and if you're following the original pattern, then you won't turn at all. So, let me finish this round before we move on, and I'll show you the difference in the next step. Remember to finish your beginning corner with 2 dc and join with a slip st (sl st) to the third chain of the beginning ch-6. To begin the next round, sl st into the corner ch-3 space.

Okay, like I keep saying, the rounds are all the same from here...So you've got this, right? There's fourteen (3 dc, ch 1) between corners. Now, back to the stitch direction: Disregard the round of Cherry below this color, and just concentrate on the two rounds of Dark Green. 

You'll see that when worked in the round, the arrows always point in the same direction. Instead of "arrows", you can also think of them as little open Pac-man mouths, always devouring your working yarn. That seems more realistic, right?

You can finish the round without my help, right? Remember to ask for help if you do need it! Once you get both rounds of this color done, bind off and weave in your ends.



Ready to start the next color? I'm not! Here's why:

  I'm sorry Caron, but I have to do this. The world is not perfect, and neither is this yarn. I'm honest. I'm open about the problems and troubles I face when crocheting. So, I'm going to tell people about it, because we've got a problem here! And although I keep repeating that I do love United; It's soft, it's durable, and it's affordable (plus available in an array of colors!), Caron, you cause me frustration with things like this:




Yarn vomit. Thanks goes to Jenn from Roving Crafters for this phrase. She's very experienced with fiber, so I'm confident that this must be a technical industry term.

Again, it's not that big of a deal. It's just frustrating. These tangles of yarn that seem to be so common in skeins of Caron are nothing but twisted loops, not actually knots. By gently spreading the pile out, you can find the main area that is twisted, then easily untwist them.



  In post 4 of the Big Granny Square project, I made a bit of an open plea to Caron. What's the deal with all these center-pull skeins? I'm now positively convinced that the Caron factory houses a nasty little yarn-tangling troll. Much like the one that lives in my house. Maybe they're family. Maybe my troll hitched a ride home in one of the skeins of Caron that I purchased in the past... Yeah, that's it! It's all your fault, Caron; that's exactly what the problem with my re-rolled balls of yarn always get tangled; it has absolutely nothing to do with me doing something wrong...


Please control your trolls!


  If you leave cookies for them regularly, they'll stay happy and keep out of the yarn. I promise. That's exactly where that plate of cookies went that was on my table... I had nothing to do with the disappearance of the sweets - Nothing, I tell you!




You've got the pattern from here, right? Because I only got this far before this happened: Here's where I've decided that this particular skein is actually cursed. It's the one that I was happy about in post 4 of the project. Because it was the first skein that was tangle free. And now, after (not very neatly) rolling up the portion I just untangled, my loops of yarn have collapsed and created a new tangle. My celebratory cheer for this skein is now becoming a dramatic, frustrated sigh.

And to give more proof to that statement, I found this after working through another yard or so. I noticed a very loose ply, felt a tug, then this popped out. Ugh. I thought I was going to end up cutting my yarn and making a Russian Join to repair it, but it looked suspiciously strange, so I decided to take a closer look at it. Eventually (after much picking), I discovered that this wasn't a broken ply of the yarn itself, but a loose piece that must have become entangled during the spinning process. I was able to work it out and twist the good yarn back together. 


With the extra time taken out of my work because of the tangles and the I-don't-know-what-you-wanna-call-it loose strand, This is it for my crochet in this post. I ran out of daylight, so you won't get a photo of the other version this time. I'm confident that you can work the pattern up to here on your own, so once you're done, take some time to pat yourself on the back for the hard work, while I take some time to go yell four-letter-words at this skein. I'm sure that will help.

*Edit: I did it again; I forgot to include the size! At this point in the pattern, my blankets measure 23" (58.5 cm) square. Sorry, that darn troll distracted me!



But wait, there's more: Don't forget about the giveaway!


Image from yarnspirations.com

  What can I tell you? Awesome. Amazing. Spectacular. COOL! - If you plan on being part of the World's Biggest Stocking project, then you might as well sign up! What do you get? First: In case you haven't bought your yarn yet, you'll get a promo code to save on your purchase of Caron United. That's good, right?

  Then, you make the blanket(s). Remember, if you knit, too, there's also patterns for knitted blankets. Don't forget to download and fill out the submission form you'll need to send with your blanket(s)! You'll need one for each shipment of blankets that you send. You can mark the number of blankets on the form if you plan on sending more than one at a time. If you don't send the form, then you won't get an entry!

  For each blanket you send, you'll earn an entry for a chance at the Grand Prize... And the Grand Prize is...


$5,000!

Cash! Well, a check, really... But that can be turned into CASH! Money, moolah, dinero!

C'mon, who doesn't want that?

  I feel like that should be in blinking lights or glitter, but I don't have that kind of skill with the required HTML/JavaScript/whatever else there is out there that I barely get through understanding... But it's $5,000... You get it, right? Just make it all sparkly in your head, like me!

You've gotta get your entries in by June 22, 2015 to have a chance at winning, so get stitching! 




Friday, April 17, 2015

WBS Blanket Progress: Repeating Colors





Blanket One: Burgundy and Cherry again
Join me in my journey to become part of a world record - Let's help make the squares that will create the World's Biggest Stocking!

To learn more about the project from its creators, click on the World's Biggest Stocking button in the right sidebar.

To find out what drove me to make more than one blanket for the project, see this Yarn Tales Tuesday post.




  I don't have much "blah, blah, blah" for you this time, so let's just get down to business: I've got a nice little tutorial included in this post for you newbies! It's a bit out of order, because I'm beginning with the darker color Burgundy, and that doesn't make for such great photos. So, you'll have to skip past the beginning to learn how to begin a new color without a slip knot, and make your beginning chain look like a regular stitch!




  And, of course, I can't forget the important "blah, blah, blah" stuff: If you need them, download the patterns for the World's Biggest Stocking blankets here. You don't have to make the blankets in the colors specified, but try to keep them bright and cheery. And you don't have to use Caron United, as long as your finished blanket measures 36" (91.5 cm) square. Remember that the patterns for the World's Biggest Stocking Blankets aren't mine! Hmm... Maybe I'll have to design one in honor of the project. New to making the Big Granny Square Blanket? Click here to start at the beginning.





We ended the last post with the last two colors to be used. Now we'll begin to repeat the pattern with the same colors!

But first, this guy has to go! Little Gilly is so lovey, and loves to "make bread", talk, and drool all over anybody. He also likes to snatch yarn, and I think that his affection towards me is purely a ploy so that he can distract me and ruin projects. He wouldn't leave me alone this day, so I thought he'd like to be part of the post. But sorry, I'm no fool Gilligan; once work begins, it's outside for you!

  Don't feel bad! He likes to be outside, where he can stalk stationary blades of grass. Not birds, bugs, or anything else a normal cat would chase. Grass. He stares at the same blade of grass for 5 minutes before pouncing on it in triumph. Eh, give him a break, he's blind in one eye!


So, now that Gilly's gone, the round begins the same, starting over with Burgundy if you're following the pattern colors. Remember to scroll ahead for that knot-less join. (Did you think I was going to remind you to chain (ch) one after the corner? Ha! You should know that by now! 

You will make (3 dc, ch 1) in each chain-1 space nine times in the 11th round, and ten times in the 12th round. Each corner is made with (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, ch 1). Both rounds end with 2 double crochet (dc) in the beginning corner space, and join with a slip stitch (sl st) to the third chain of the beginning ch-6. Bind off and weave in the ends. 


Now, for that little mini-tutorial as I begin with Cherry! When you begin a new color with a slip knot on your hook, does the back of the stitch look like this? Does it bother you as much as it used to bother me when I was learning to crochet?

Don't start with a slip knot! Begin with the tail of the yarn to the front of the hook.

Insert your hook. Grab the yarn so that the working end is behind the hook, and the tail is in the front.

Pull the yarn through.

Cross the working yarn over the tail end.

Yarn over from back to front with the tail.

Yarn over with the working yarn in the same manner. Pull the working yarn under the tail and through the stitch to complete your slip stitch.

The tail will still be loose over the working yarn until you make your next chain. Hold the tail to the front of the work. When you yarn over to make your chain, the tail should be below the hook.
Now, the back of your beginning slip stitch will have two vertical loops, making the beginning chain look like a regular stitch at the base.

When working over a chain as for this corner, I like to work over the tail with a few stitches. When beginning this way in the loops of a stitch, I leave the tail loose to weave in later.

In round 13, you will make (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-1 space eleven times between each corner; twelve times for round 14. Each corner is made the same with (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc), and the beginning corner is finished with 2 dc. Join to the third chain of the beginning ch-6.

And, as always, here's the version that's worked completely in the round. Remember, the working version is turned every color change. This one has inspired me to make a new tutorial... One that I should follow myself! I have a bad habit of making this mistake: Can you spot it? If not, pretend it's perfect for now, and wait for the tutorial!




Are you creating any blankets to donate to the World's Biggest Stocking project? Please, show us your work - share on the Crochet is the Way Facebook page, Pinterest, or the Crochet is the Way community on Google+! Tag your photos with #WorldsBiggestStocking or #crochetforcharity.




Click here if you missed the previous tutorial

Click here for the next tutorial