Monday, October 26, 2015

Get Outta the Kitchen and Get Back to Stitchin'






  I mentioned in my last post that I'm working on promoting a product... And it has nothing to do with crochet. I promise, this post has something to do with crochet, but you're going to hear about my adventures in baking first. This side job has been a bit both a blessing and a curse for me. The good points: I've been in a bit of a funk lately, so it's nice to step away from my crochet work that has become stressful. I used to love to bake, so this keeps me in my comfort zone. And I get to keep a product that, to be honest, I would probably never purchase. (I don't mean that in a bad way... Keep reading!)





Peanut butter cheesecake stuffed brownies recipe




  The bad points: My feet, and possibly my waistline. (Oh, yeah right... I weigh 100 pounds.) Baking was my specialty before I learned to crochet, but it's been years since I've spent the whole day on my feet in the kitchen. Day? I've been tending the oven for a week! I'm tired of standing, stirring, straining and scrubbing. And if I eat one more cupcake, I'm gonna puke.




Angel food cake cups filled with strawberry preserves and vanilla custard





  So, I'll stop complaining because that's all I can complain about. I'm getting paid, the neighbors are enjoying my successes along with a few mistakes, and now I can sit down in a cool house for a while. I have a few (not so) funny stories about trying to make meringue in the hot and humid Florida weather, and why not to try using the electric mixer in that smaller bowl. I came out alive, a couple pounds heavier, the batter is cleaned up, and I'm ready to get some crocheting done!




An unsuccessful attempt at meringue, stuck and deflated in my new baking trays





recipes, fails,





  Now, about what I said about not buying the product... That's just me and my budget talking. I often have to make choices between paying bills or buying toys, and these baking trays fall under the 'toy' category. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want them. I rely on my "MacGyver Style" thinking to create my own versions of products I can't afford, like when I attached a small key chain light to one of my crochet hooks, instead of buying a set of the lighted ones. That - like many of my attempts - worked temporarily. The light only worked when the button was pushed, so I had to hold it together with the hook. And I ended up with blisters.




  Of course, even though I have this product in front of me, I had to see if I could recreate it without buying it. I think I might save that whole story for the article I'll be writing about the product, but let's just say for now: It turned out to be a great advertisement opportunity for Ivory dish soap and Arm & Hammer baking soda. I'll add that if we had a 'swear jar', it would be full. My recipes came out (mostly) successful in the product (except for that awful decision to attempt meringue... And the hamburger cups shown), and my knockoff idea was a complete disaster.




recipes, fails, hamburger cups





  It made me think about fiber arts - and not just crochet in general. How many products can we live without, and how many tools do we actually need? I know I get by with the bare minimum, but I would love to have all the gadgets and gizmos there are. In my past sewing adventures, I have tried to make curtains without an iron. I mean, who needs an iron to sew a straight line, right? Yeah... If your fabric isn't straight, then your seam isn't, either. Irons are needed for sewing. Somebody tried to sell me a set of fabric weights for $1. I don't exactly know what those are for, or if I really need them. I'll save my dollar for now.




  Stitch markers: A necessity for some projects, both knitting and crochet. But do you need to spend a ton of money on them? No! I usually use a scrap of yarn or a bent paperclip. Sometimes I use a clip-on earring with a missing mate. I recently used a few locking shower curtain hooks found in the junk drawer. And if you do want fancy ones, all you need is some simple jewelry-making skills to make your own. Don't let stitch markers break the bank.    




  Yarn ball winders, lighted crochet hooks, and fancy yarn totes are all great to have, but they are things that you can live without. It may take time, but you can wind that skein by hand. Lighted hooks are great for travel and bedtime, but a small flashlight or even your cell phone can provide light, and I bet you already have at least one of those. Maybe if you're on the go a lot, then a fancy yarn tote comes in handy. But I know that I have old backpacks and purses stuffed in closets that can serve the same purpose. Why not save more money to spend on nicer yarn?




  Then, there's that fiber art that I try my best to stay away from: Counted cross-stitch. My mom does that. She's great at it. I can't even get the fabric straight in the hoop. Which brings to mind all the things you really do need for that craft... The hoops, thingies to wind the thread on, fabric, special needles... It seems like even a pencil and paper are necessities to complete a project. And magic. Memories of trying to learn cross-stitching are filled with the phrase "No, not that way", no matter which way I went. And french knots are pure evil. Okay, so maybe I speak of the necessities for cross-stitching from inexperience. Maybe if you're good at it, all you need is a needle and thread. Disregard my advice about the craft.




  There are quite a few tools of the trade that we can live without, but it's nice to have that one special thing... A fancy hook, a book of awesome patterns, or just a novelty pincushion that brings a smile to your face. Do you have one? Besides my ancient Hero hook (and that's a hand-me-down), I don't really have anything. Besides yarn, there's not one single tool I bought just because. I've been dying to try out a Furls hook, but that falls under the 'toy' category again, since I already have hooks. *Jumping up and down* "But I want it!"




crochet, hook, steel, antique, Hero





  My kitchen was the same, until this baking deal added my new special tools. I don't have a different gadget to chop this, or a do-dad to cut that. Up until now the most special thing I had in the cabinets was my spring-form pans, but I scored them at an outlet store for ten bucks (for the set!). And of course those were a necessity, because how am I supposed to make homemade triple-layer pumpkin-peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake without them?




  Hey! All I've shared so far is my dessert creations... Not into sweets? I need a break from the kitchen, but I managed to squeeze in a savory dish for breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner, too! (We had these for dinner, but I think this recipe would make a nice brunch.) My hamburger cups were a disaster, but check out these egg creations:




Southwestern egg and cheese cups recipe



  Clicking on the photos of my successful creations will take you to Guidecentral and the recipe. I'm not going to push the product here on a crochet blog, but in case you're interested: There's a coupon code at the end of each recipe for 10% off the product! If you didn't click through and you don't want to scroll back up, here's the direct links:


Peanut Butter Cheesecake stuffed Brownie Cups


Strawberry Custard filled Angel Food Cupcakes


Southwestern Egg and Cheese Cups




Happy Crocheting... And maybe baking, too!  





Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Quick WIP for a Cutie






  Hey, everybody! This is just a quick post today... I'm super busy with one sweet promotional job - and by sweet, I mean sweet! My butt is busy in the kitchen with brownies, dough, cheesecake, fudge sauce, batter, custard, meringue, peanut butter "something", and a whole lot of dishes to be done. But I had to take a short break to let you know what's on the hook in between batches:




  I met a new cutie! And no, I'm not straying from the Other Half... We recently had the neighbors over, and they brought their little boy along. This little guy is full of spunk and energy. He sure keeps his mommy on her toes already, and he's just learning to walk! In the few moments she had between "no's" in my non-childproofed house (lol), Mommy was telling me what Little Guy is going to be for Halloween... And a new WIP went on the hook.




crochet, WIP, work in progress





  So, let me just say that Mommy is one smart cookie (OMG, please, no more cookies!). Little Guy isn't going to get much use from a Halloween costume before he outgrows it, so she's putting together a costume from clothes he already has. Add to that a new pair of shoes -one size too big- so that all the items can be reused after The Night of Candy Overload. I automatically saw an opportunity to provide an extra accessory to the getup, and I'm making it so it can pull double-duty, too.




crochet, Halloween, WIP





  And of course it will be a free pattern! I have a tiny bit more work to do on it, plus weave in the ends. Then, I need to track down Little Guy for a picture, if Mommy is willing... And if Little Guy will sit still. One reason I don't share a lot of stuff I make for little ones is because they don't sit still for pictures! If it can't roll away yet, okay. If it understands and will listen to "no", then okay. If it's anything in between, photo shoots are often a nightmare!




crochet, WIP, weaving in ends




  This is a great start to my goal of "getting back to the basics". First, I'll get this one done for Trick or Treat Time. Then I'm going to make another, so I can take the time to make a video. This will be a great project for beginners to practice the half-double crochet, plus change colors. And while we're at it, I'll teach you another of my "out of the ordinary" tricks for when I change colors... One that especially comes in handy when doing color changes with the half-double crochet.




  The pattern will come first, this time. This promotional job has me a little behind schedule, so it might be a week or two before the video is ready. In the meantime, beginners can get a head start by heading over to my Guidecentral profile. (Keep an eye out for some yummy recipes showing up soon!) In between my time in the kitchen, I've also been busy making some new Guides covering the basic stitches. If you're looking for help with a specific stitch, here's some direct links:




Chain stitch

Slip stitch

Single crochet

Half-double crochet

Double crochet

Triple crochet




Happy Crocheting!




Friday, October 16, 2015

I Love Yarn Day (Sales)!






  Happy I Love Yarn Day!




I Love Yarn Day, Craft Yarn Council
Image from craftyarncouncil.com




  October 17th, 2015 is I Love Yarn Day! (Some of you may be getting this a little early, but posts usually go out in the feed the next day... So if you're here early, then happy Early I Love Yarn Day!) Now, I've already written my post about I Love Yarn Day, and explained what I'll be doing: Basically, nothing. To sum it up, I had a cool plan but it fell through. Don't let that stop you from celebrating how much you love yarn!




  I often get asked "Do we really need a day to celebrate yarn? Every day is I Love Yarn Day!", and maybe that's true. However... Don't you want an extra-special day to celebrate yarn? I do! Know why? Yarn sales!! Tons of companies are offering online yarn sales in honor of I Love Yarn Day (or... Just because), and I'm sure you might be able to find one at your LYS (local yarn shop) if you have one. Sadly, I don't. So, since my LYS-less I Love Yarn Day is starting to look pretty boring, I took some time to track down some great sales! 


*Disclaimer* I shall not be held accountable for any loss of your savings. I'm simply sharing yarn sales with you. I am not being compensated in any way by any manufacturer or retailer. In fact, I'll probably be depleting my funds while tracking down these deals for you. Any damage done to your wallet as a result of these sales is solely your own responsibility, and by continuing you hereby accept that you should blame yourself for blowing your budget.



:)


  • Michaels has an assortment of brands on sale, which you can check out by clicking the picture to follow the link. My pick is the Lily Sugar and Cream for $0.79!



yarn, sale, Michaels, Lily Sugar and Cream
Image from michaels.com



  
  • Joann is also offering quite an assortment. I found a few yarns on sale that I've never used, and a couple that I haven't even seen yet! I think, just to be honest, you can find some of these brands on sale for less through their manufacturers, but there's still some great deals! My pick (an unseen yarn to me) is Lion Brand Landscapes. Check out that color!


sale, yarn, Joann, Lion Brand
Image from joann.com




  • Speaking of Lion Brand, hop on over there for some great sales any time. I haven't been keeping track of their deals, so what a surprise to find a bunch of 3-skein value packs at 40% -or more- off! You'll find baby yarn, cotton yarn, Chenille yarn, fuzzy yarn, fluffy yarn, furry yarn... All in discounted three-packs. I'm not sharing a pick for this site, because I wanted them all by the time I made it to page 15 of the sales. I'll just let you go start on page one and check out the Clearance Section for yourself! 






  • M'kay... Forget about the celebration for a minute... Just bookmark this page! I mean, you can't go wrong with a URL like yarn.com, can you? My jaw dropped when I came across the Grampa's Garage Sale section. You will find discontinued colors and assorted brands, but my pick is surely the Borroco Borealis. What a discount!


yarn, sale, Webs, Berrocco
Image from yarn.com




  • And, one more: I've been saving up for a shopping spree at this site, and I can't wait! Vivid Yarns has been on my list of companies to try out, but my money keeps running out. They have a great Closeout section, but this is more of a buy-in-bulk site. Just one of their packages is often more yarn than I need for a project, so I've been putting it off. Maybe I Love Yarn Day will be the day to give their yarns a go... The only problem is, I can't choose just one from their huge assortment! 




  I'm sure there has to be so many more yarn sales out there, but I can't keep going. Must... Buy... Yarn! Many of those sales are in more obvious places: Check out Craftsy, Cut Rate Crafts, Ravelry, and KnitPicks, or go directly to your favorite yarn manufacturer. It seems like maybe quite a few of them are missing out on I Love Yarn Day, but they still have discounts! You can take advantage of that while pretending they're celebrating with you, right? While you wait for that yarn to ship, you can party the rest of the day away by making room in your stash. 




  Do you have anything planned for I Love Yarn Day? Whether you're throwing a yarn party or making an item for charity, everything counts as a celebration for the day! Pour yourself some wine and stitch in a bubble bath! (Omg, can that be done? Imagine trying to work row 56 of a full size afghan while in a tub of water, lol. Wait. Plarn!) Become a yarn addiction enabler and teach someone your skills. And don't forget to share your 'celebrations' on social media, using the hashtags #stitchitforward and #ILYD2015. Or, there's my personal favorite: Stick some googly eyes on your favorite skein, then carry it around, petting it and whispering "I love you, Yarn" repeatedly as people walk by. I just might have to try that.





Have a Happy I Love Yarn Day!
And can we make October I Love Yarn Month already?




Thursday, October 15, 2015

Getting Back to the Basics






  Do we have to stretch our talents to the limits at all times? No! Make a scarf for a person in need, using nothing but single crochet stitches. I bet they'd appreciate it. You know that young couple that's just starting out down the street? I bet they'd love a plain ol' granny square blanket as a housewarming gift. And if you're looking to sell your work, then it doesn't always have to be the fanciest thing out there. A beautiful lacy washcloth that takes you two days to make might sell as a gift item, but it's likely to go unused in a drawer because nobody wants to mess it up. I'd rather sell a four-pack of simple dishcloths that only take me ten minutes to make - and people will use them. Give them character with a multicolored yarn and a neat border, instead of taking forever to make a masterpiece.




crochet, beginners, double crochet





  Lately I've been using modified stitches like crazy! I just got bored with everything "in the book", and started playing with variations of stitches. I modified the butterfly stitch for the Dancing Dragonflies Scarf, the bobble stitch in the Drops on the Window Scarf, the long single crochet in the Mayflower Lace Scarf, and the front/back diagonal stitches in the Tracks 'n' Treads Scarf (as well as the Textured Face Scrubby). They all made amazing texture, and I've had fun, but it's time to get back to the basics again.




crochet, advanced stitches, scarf, free pattern





  It's too much work! A few special stitches once in a while are fine, but all these "modified" patterns are taking up way too much time - and sometimes yarn! First, I spend time making the stitch work, then I record the directions. I make a pattern. I create a tutorial. Maybe I make a video. In the case of the Mayflower Lace Scarf, I made both step by step and graph tutorials... And I'm not complaining. I encourage "thinking outside the box", and I love to share my new designs with others. I just don't have the time for extra-special stuff right now.




  So, it's been fun, Modified Stitches, but I have to let you go for now. We'll meet again, when my life is less hectic. Who knows? Maybe we'll see each other in a book. You have your own tutorials, and you're required in my free patterns, so you'll be kept in use while I'm away. Some attention needs to be given to your ancestors as you flourish and find your way in the world. 




  I've been so busy showing off teaching my skills and the new stitches I've developed that I'm neglecting the things I've yet to learn. I'm practicing Tunisian crochet, but for some reason I'm still having trouble getting the tension right. My rows come out crooked. I picked up Clones Irish Lace, but I've yet to finish a single project. And let's not forget my original roots in needlework: What happened to knitting? It's a craft that I never perfected, and abandoned after I learned to crochet. I decided to commit to knitting something again because there's this really awesome Knit Along I wanted to join in on, only to discover that I didn't even remember how to cast on correctly. Embarrassing.




-  -  -  -  -




crochet, double crochet, beginners





  For those who have passed the beginner level and are looking to expand their skills, you might be unimpressed with the blog for a while. I'm sure I'll get bored with getting back to the basics, but I'm also neglecting the main reason I started making tutorials: Beginners! I still remember, and will never forget that feeling of being a self-taught beginner, with only a few old books that were difficult to understand. Oh, how my skills soared once I gained access to the internet! Yet, there were things missing that still left me confused. Like: Sure, you can show me a tutorial for how to make the Love Knot stitch using your already-started pattern. But how in the world do you work the starting chain? I strive to teach the information that others leave out.




  Still to this day, there's a pattern in one of my (ancient) books that I can't work out. It covers all four rows of the pattern stitch, but not the beginning chain. The multiple doesn't work out for me when I make my starting chain. I assume that I'm missing something in the first row, but I've wondered if the multiple was incorrect and I just don't have it's ancient correction. Included are four grainy black-and-white photos - only showing the triple crochet three together (tr3tog). It's written in UK terms and uses abbreviations like "wrh" that I had to translate first. (That's "wool round hook", by the way - "yarn over" for American me.) The pattern uses single, double, and triple crochet in the same rows, so it got a bit confusing until I wrote it all out in US terms. Even then, I still can't figure it all out.




crochet, advanced stitches, flowers





  My goal is to stick to simplicity until I can work out that pattern. It has bugged me to no end for years now. I feel like I have no business teaching any more advanced stitches until I can figure out the stitch that has me stumped. And when I do figure it out, I'll share it here. I'll include a tutorial. Maybe a video. And you can bet I'll teach you how to start the beginning chain.




Happy Crocheting!   





Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's Done!






  No, I didn't finish that last minute WIP. But finally, the Other Half and I tied the knot! We sure did make a bunch of people mad in the process, too! And you know what? Just this one time - I don't care! I found it absolutely ridiculous how many people got upset over us getting married... Those we did want to come were quite nasty and found excuses not to be there. That's fine, because some other people were so happy for us and had no problem standing up as witnesses.





wedding, crochet, WIP
Here's our wedding photo - lol - He's hanging on to me as my 4-inch stilettos sunk in the lawn! We decided to move before I broke an ankle...




  I was working on a special WIP that was meant to go with my dress. At the last minute, I found a sheer wrap for $2 and bought it as a backup. I'm so glad that I did, because I didn't have time to finish my project before the ceremony. When some unforeseen circumstances and unasked for attitudes threatened to cancel the wedding, I gave up work on the shawl to concentrate on other things. The important thing is: It's done now - the wedding and the shawl, so I can finally take a moment to explain what happened.




WIP, crochet, shawl, crescent





  Chances are that most of the uninvited don't read the blog, and I know the one that does will understand not being there (Hi, Kid!), so let's cover some of the situations that I had to face, thanks to inconsiderate people:


(Wait, by the way, let me explain: Before everybody else got themselves involved, my "wedding" wasn't supposed to be a big fancy wedding, anyways. The plan was to do it out on the pier at the lake, invite just a few people, and have a quiet barbecue the next day. Everything, including the dress, cost just under $300 - and that's counting the dinner after the ceremony, plus the food for the "reception".)


  The friend we thought we were closest to was asked to stand up for us at the ceremony. His first response was "You're getting married?....." *extremely long pause* ".....Why?" Whoa! Not what I expected! He then proceeded to complain about his three failed marriages and tell the Other Half about how he'll be missing half of his assets, soon enough... "Marriage ain't nothin' but a way for women to get ya under their thumbs, then take your stuff..."




  Okay, guys... Listen: GUYS... Hey, if you want to do that in the privacy of a Guy Conversation, then okay. But, can we not do that right in front of the bride-to-be? I don't know, maybe I'm just trying to get ya'll "under my thumb", but it seems a bit rude to me. Especially when you're saying that as I pour you a cup of coffee with a smile on my face. I mean, I don't think guys would appreciate it if "us women folk" started talking about how "guys are pretty helpless without a women around"... I mean, you can't program a TV remote, cook yourself dinner, do your laundry or change a diaper, but you think women are the useless ones. You don't even have matching socks. You think it's acceptable to wipe your boogers on things in public places, and I'm still inviting you to my wedding. C'mon dude...




  "Closest Friend" told us sorry, he had to work that day. He couldn't be there. But he could call two days before the wedding to ask if he could pick something up - the afternoon of the wedding. Yeah... Thought you had to work and couldn't make it. But you're on the phone asking when we'll be back, so you can get what you need. Okay... Okay... Now, let's cover something my mama taught me as a kid: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. So, if your comment the day after the wedding is "How long will it be before you need a lawyer?", then maybe you should just SHUT UP. It's not like we're eloping after meeting two weeks ago. We've been together TEN YEARS. Maybe your three failed marriages have something to do with your attitude about marriage.




  I'm done with that one. On to the next issue: I didn't tell my parents at first, because they're always so good at asking me "Are you sure you want to do this?", and I just didn't need anybody asking me that. In the end as I was ready to fall apart, it was my dad that suggested I just tell everybody to "go hang" and do it. Thanks, dad!




  The kids are at the ex's for school, which was good in a way. I would have loved to have them there, but there wasn't anybody to watch them. One witness was busy playing photographer, and the other... Well, I just don't know him that much, and don't feel comfortable asking "Hey, can you watch these kids you don't know?"; plus he wasn't going the same way as the rest of the "party".




  However, that didn't stop the ex from voting me the "World's Worst Parent" and lecturing me about how this is "a big deal" and the kids need to be there. Apparently, it would make me a better parent if I would squeeze somebody into a middle seat with no seat belt, then leave the kids unattended at a lakefront park that is beautiful, but know for drug activity... And for people... Um... You know... Doing things in the bathrooms and evidently right on the picnic tables, like we interrupted as we walked out to the pier... It's a very pretty area, but not the kind of place a good parent would let their kids out of sight.




   Think what you want to think. I would have loved to have the kids there. But, the only other choice was to let the ex watch the kids and stay for the wedding. He's famous for comments such as "Hey doc, make sure you put an extra stitch in it" and "It better not come out black" when attending important events such as the birth of his children. In previous times of getting dressed up, I have heard him say "You look good enough to pimp out for money". There's no chance I'm letting him stand there - even if it means the kids don't get to be there. (And please forgive me for even repeating the horrible things he says - I do not agree with his views).




  I worry about what he really told them, and if they'll actually understand. Somehow, I think they know their dad and they'll get it. And if they don't, then we'll just have to work through it. It wasn't like we were having a big party and making it a huge celebration. It was plain, quiet, and pretty boring for a kid. They might think they wanted to be there, but in the end, there would have been six hours of driving for a ten-minute long boring ceremony. It wasn't a big deal until their dad tried to turn it into one.




  As for the rest we thought of inviting, there was quite a few negative remarks from all. Which leads me to issue an open comment to the whole world: Hey, everybody! SO WHAT if you've been married and it didn't work out! Who are you to put that doubt in other people's heads? How can you know if a marriage will work out or not? Are you psychic? Then give me the winning lottery numbers! What if that relationship would be just fine, except for that little spark of negativity you had to add to it? Knock it off and let people be happy! If it doesn't work out after all, then just be there for that person. That's called "being a real friend".




  Speaking of real friends: Boy, did we find ours. My "bridesmaid" was more excited than we were. He stood there with a smile on his face, being happy for us even after recently going through a breakup. And holy cow, did he come through for us - He had no idea how to use my camera, but managed to get a few decent shots of us, plus take a video of the ceremony. Now, if only the Other Half could manage to keep his eyes open in a picture!




  And by the way, to any of you who tried to help me keep it together in the last post, thank you! So many things kept getting in the way that I was ready to call the whole thing off. Your positive comments helped me through it. I was unable to keep up with updates towards the end, because we faced another emergency. It was Friday: Six o'clock. Still no Other Half. I get a phone call. "...*sigh*... I'll be home as soon as I can..." And by his voice, I already know what happened. I put down the shawl. "What's wrong with the car?"




WIP, crochet, shawl





  You see, we're down to one vehicle right now. The brakes went out on the Other Half's truck, and as things go, it's not just the brakes. He has a whole front-end problem that's going to be a lot of money and work. We put off fixing it until after the wedding. After my old not-really-my-best-friend "helped" me fix my truck, it's still sitting in the yard, growing mold and killing grass. That leaves him driving the sometimes-unreliable car, and me with no vehicle to go rescue the broken-down Other Half.




  Mikey (my "bridesmaid") to the rescue! After a full day's work under a car, there's nothing you want more than to go home, get a shower, and get some food. (Believe me, I know... If any of you have followed the blog long enough, then you know I used to be a mechanic, too.) So, after poor Mikey has to work hard all day, he shows up at the drop of a hat to rescue the Other Half (who's also been hard at work all day). Gets the car going so he can get home, and goes in to work on a Saturday to get it fixed before the wedding that day. He even repaired another problem that I didn't know about. We sure did find out who our real friends are.




  Now, back to my "virtual" real friends: You guys! So, about that special WIP that I was working on for the wedding (even though I didn't wear it)... It's a really, really awesome crescent shawl. I want so badly to share the pattern for free, but part of me feels like that's my special pattern, and I at least deserve to get paid for it. I have no idea how to do it yet, but I know you can put your patterns for sale on Ravelry, and also use a code for a free download. Give me some time to figure it out, and I think that's what I'll do with it. (If you want it faster, then somebody teach me how that works, lol!) I do know if I am going to sell it, I need to do some research on what size Great-Granny's hook really is:




crochet, hooks, antique




crochet, hooks, antique, Hero





  In the meantime, there's other patterns to work on. The Mandala for Wink is in it's final testing and editing, and the Scarf of the Month patterns need to get caught up again. I'm almost ready to scrap the video for July's scarf, just so I can publish the pattern already. It seems like an Unseen Force doesn't want me making a video for my Woven Chains Scarf... And I just learned how to cut videos together! The scarves for August and September are finished and ready to go, but July is holding them all back.




  Although I've been enjoying my time writing on the blog more frequently, I need to back off for just a little while so I can start offering some productive content again. My mistakes and mishaps might be amusing to read about, but I started the blog to teach. All I've been doing lately is complaining about how everything goes wrong. However (lol), I have one more blah-blah-blah post coming up to explain what I'll be getting into. You'll also be seeing some different content soon - But we'll talk about that when we get there.




Happy Crocheting!
(And maybe something else...)





Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Last Minute WIP






  Four days. I have four days until I get married. After The Microsoft Bungle made me blow my "wedding" budget, I scrambled to figure something out. I wasn't planning on wearing a traditional wedding dress, and I was even toying with the thought of wearing pants and boots. I love pants and boots. Big, black boots with grommets, laces, and maybe even some metal spikes. Gimme a spiked collar to go with that. That's what I'm comfortable in. The Other Half said he just wants me to be comfortable...




crochet, shawlette, WIP





  But he kinda frowned upon spikes. He's a redneck-ish simple guy, and I blast heavy metal. Great match. Anyways, when we went shopping, I was just making a joke about a dress. That's when I found out he did seem to like the idea of me in something other than metal gear (or my daily rubber boots around the yard). Okay, so here I go, completely out of my comfort zone:




crochet, dress, wedding,

(That wall is compliments of the dog, by the way. After he ripped out two sheets of drywall right after we replaced it [because he ripped it out the first time], I stopped fixing stuff. Now that he's grown up, this pic makes me think I need to get back to it. Maybe that's what we can do on our 'honeymoon', lol.)




  I found a dress at Ross for under $20. I hate it. In defense of the dress, I hate every dress. Or maybe I just hate me in a dress. Either way, I tried it on and hated it. When I brought it back out so quickly, the employee back in the fitting room asked me why I didn't like it. I told her I just don't wear dresses. "I'll be more comfortable in pants", I told her. She asked me what it was for. I only said "a wedding". She asked me who's wedding, and what's the attire? "My wedding", I said, and she went all "Mom" on me.




  The Other Half was standing to the side, waiting. She asks me "Is this the guy?", "Yeah" I reply. She turns to the Other Half and says "What's the matter with you? You can't let her get married in pants! It's her special day!", and I almost expected her to give him a little slap. This leaves me a bit confused, since I'm the one that wants to wear pants. Oh well. She made me go try the dress on again and come back out in it. That's when I almost lost it.




  I really hate attracting the attention of people I don't know. I do my best to avoid conversations. And especially when it comes to social situations, I'm not very feminine. Let's have a beer and a spitting contest. I'll be comfortable. Let's talk about who's got more torque and better gearing. Got that. I have no idea what to do when the fitting room lady and two other ladies I don't know start spewing about how beautiful I look in a dress.

 
"Oh, how pretty!" says fitting room lady.


Unknown lady that I presume is waiting for the cackling teenage girls in the fitting room: "Oh, that fits you so perfectly!"


Unknown lady just walking by who has to stop to say: "Oh, that's beautiful!"


Unknown lady #1: "What's it for?"


By the way, I'm just akwardly standing there, looking at the guy behind her as he rolls his eyes; almost laughing, because I feel like doing the same...


Fitting room lady: "She's getting married!"


Unknown lady #2: "You're getting married?! You're not wearing a wedding dress?!"


(Finally) Me: "No, it's not really a "real" wedding, so there's no need for a wedding dress. I think I'm just gonna wear pants."


All three: "PANTS?!"


Lady #2: "No, you're not wearing pants. You're wearing that dress. It's perfect. Get it."


Lady #1: "It's beautiful. You look beautiful in it. Get the dress. Wear it."


Fitting room lady: "She's geting the dress. She has to." Turns to the Other Half: "If you don't make her wear that dress, I will.


Me in between all those comments: "But... but... but..." I look up and see a bunch of other people peeking from around the aisles, women all smiling at me, some nodding approval and a few others murmuring about how nice/pretty/beautiful I look. And then I started to cry, so I said "Okay", and went back into the fitting rooms before anybody saw.




  And that's how I got my "under $20 wedding dress". The dress I don't have shoes for. I was going to wear boots, but the Other Half says heels would be nicer. So I bought a pair of $30 heels, and I hated them with the dress. Those are getting returned, and I ordered a pair I found online - so cute, with pearls on the straps (barf). Now, I'm hoping they get here in time. I still need to get my hair cut (which I haven't done in about 7 years), and the Other Half wants me to get bangs (gulp). I'm also hoping to finish the accessory I decided to start six days before the wedding.




crochet, shoes, wedding





  I really don't like the neckline of the dress. It needs... Something. I have a neck like a deformed giraffe, and I think the high circular neckline makes me look more freakish than usual. I thought about jewelry, but I don't have anything that would look nice. We don't even have rings, so I'm not spending more money on something I don't need. I considered getting it altered. Yeah, right. That would cost more than the dress. So, what kind of accessory could I add to dress it up? A wedding shawl! Since I'm so stressed that I really don't know if I want to get married anymore, let's make it a "prayer" shawl. And all the gushing from the ladies made me think maybe I should have something special, so I'm gonna make it with my odd-sized antique steel hook that belonged to Great-Grandma. That will make it extra-special for me. And yes, it's black, because that's my favorite color.




crochet, WIP, wedding, shawlette





   I'm short on time, so it will have to be a shawlette. Made in black crochet thread, I might go blind before the wedding. Should I go as far as adding beads? We'll see if I have time. The one thing I can tell you is: I'm not gonna get it done if I continue to sit here typing! Ya'll might not see me for the rest of the week. If you don't, then you know it's not done. If you do, then I'll probably be sharing pictures! And by the way: I was told by my "bridesmaid" who is a dude, that I need flowers. I need flowers?




Happy Crocheting!
Oh, yeah... You know there will be a pattern, too!




crochet, pattern, WIP, wedding, shawlette



 


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pay Attention!






  I was originally going to title this post "Too Many WIP's and Not Enough Brains", but I decided that was a bit lengthy. Plus, how can you have too many WIP's? It's a lot like yarn - You know you don't really need all that, but you just... can't... help it!




crochet, mandala, WIP





  So, this week I might have given myself a lesson in why you can have too many WIP's... Or, you at least why I should learn to pay lots and lots of attention! In a notebook, I keep track of (almost) every project I'm working on. I write down the yarn, the hook, and record any special stitches or notes as I go. (That's all part of writing a pattern anyways.) Some patterns keep me glued to my notebook as I work. Others are simple repetitive designs that I can pick back up without a glance at my book. Yeah... Maybe I should have consulted that book...




crochet, mandala, WIP





  It doesn't take an advanced crocheter to see that the two hooks pictured are very different in size. So, what in the world was I thinking when I picked up the large hook to continue the project that's being worked with a H/8 - 5.00MM? I wasn't thinking. I'm exhausted. I'm stressed. And it made me mess up again. The entire time I was adding six inches to the design, my stitch count wasn't coming out right. When working a flat piece in the round, you should typically increase by the same number of stitches each round. My number wasn't increasing properly, but I continued working anyways.




  Now, I'm no dummy. I should have known better. But I have a bad habit. A long time ago, somebody robbed me of my ability to have confidence in anything I do. Even when I know my decision is right, there's still a voice inside screaming "How stupid are you? I can't believe how dumb you are! You're an idiot - No wonder you can't do anything right!"... So I've developed an even worse habit of automatically ignoring that voice. Although that voice really needs to shut up, maybe I should take its advice once in a while. My "Ignore the Voice" attitude lead me to keep working, when I should have stopped to take a second look. Instead, I had to unravel all this yarn:




crochet, mandala, WIP





  If this was any regular in-the-round pattern, I would have listened to the voice. This design is different. It tells a story as it's worked. In order to tell the story, I worked into previous rounds, above and below, and there's even a bit of "weaving". The stitch count strays from a normal in-the-round pattern, because there's extra stitches needed to work around other stitches. To keep the piece flat, I found I needed to tweak the stitch count when I made a round behind the work - only on some rounds and not for others. I usually rely on math to make sure my count is correct, but this design requires some guessing. I ignored the voice when it was screaming "You're wrong!", because it screamed that at me a few rounds ago. I ripped out two rounds because of that voice, when I had the pattern right all along.




  Math lets me tell that voice to "stick it", because the numbers are there in front of me. I like proof. Guesswork leaves me vulnerable to the constant nagging of my doubt. Why? Now there's a new voice saying "Omg, you're dumb sometimes", but this one means it in a nice way. Why, on round 15, would I already have the absolute certainty that this round will mess up what round 22 will be? Hello! I'm the one designing it! I can make round 22 whatever I want! If it doesn't work with round 15, just change it! (Duh!)




crochet, mandala, WIP





  So, yeah, I'm dumb sometimes. Dumb for listening to that stupid voice. I feel kinda dumb for picking up the wrong size hook, but I'll blame it on my fight with that voice and just get over it. Uncertainty makes us stress over the little things that don't really matter. Hesitation causes us to make errors that could be critical. Sometimes we need to second guess ourselves to ensure we don't make those big mistakes. There's a fine line between when we should listen to the voice of doubt and when we should ignore it. Let's just work on getting it to speak a little more politely and with a bit less criticism.




Happy Crocheting!