Friday, July 28, 2017

The Flip that Flopped

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  I don't like to be the first person to try something new unless it's an idea of my own. So I've sat back for a while, watching other crocheters recycle or up-cycle their sandals into amazing crocheted shoes or slippers. I've read about how "easy" it is to recycle a broken pair of flip-flops... How "simple" it is to create a comfy pair of shoes... How "fast" you can turn those worn-out sandals into some stylish flats... And this isn't a tutorial claiming any of the same. This is the story of why I won't be continuing the project.


crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Instead of using a nice pair of sandals for the first try, the project started with an old gunky pair of flip flops that are near (?) the end of their life. Knowing I wouldn't be able to use a tiny hook to work through the foam material, I decided to sew through it in one shot, then work with a bigger hook through the sewn-on loops.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  We can use the time-stamps on the photos to track how long this takes... Start time at the photo above is 3:42. Prior to that, it had only taken seconds to cut the straps from the soles. It might have taken about twenty minutes to sew that far around the shoe, but it felt more like an hour.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Time stamp: 3:51. It took me almost ten minutes to sew around the inside arch of the shoe. And it felt like another hour of untangling the yarn that bunched up around the sole as I pulled it through.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Okay, so the time says 3:56. (It still felt like an hour of agonizing torture while I untangled the knot.) Needle back in hand, my hopes were raised as I reached the end of the sewing...

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  4:13 and my energy levels once again soared as I picked up the hook to start stitching. I was hoping to use a bigger hook to avoid stressing my hands, but found I could only fit a size F (3.75 mm) hook under the loops I had sewn. Hmm... Well, I could tough it out for this little tiny project, right?

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Yeah, right... 9:21, after taking a break, of course... I've only made it once around the shoe. Using the smaller hook was frustrating enough, and the sole kept flopping around in the way as I stitched. I was getting bored; my hands were becoming stiff. But still, I tried to stick with it. I was even working over the tail as I went to save myself work in the end:

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  And knowing that this was just one practice project on a junk pair of shoes, the pattern-writing junkie in me still had to take notes. It wasn't a bad idea anyway, considering I'd still have to work the next shoe...

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  I worked even for the first round, and started making some decreases around the arch in the next round. Even though I wasn't planning on publishing a pattern for the shoes, I still wanted to keep track of where the decreases were to make the second shoe match. After those two rounds, it looked like a good time to start decreasing around the toe.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  10:46... To fight the boredom I was already experiencing, I had switched colors after two rounds. I was thinking it would be cute to finish the rest of the shoe all in black, then make a pink bow to attach to the toe. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to make a plain pair of flats, or something decorative with some style. My hands were cramping, and I had no strength left. I put the project up for the rest of the night, then asked The Kid for her opinion the next day.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers, swallow-tailed kite, birds, Florida

  2:27.. The next day resulted in no crocheting. Too sore to continue working on the shoes, I spent the day doing housework and hanging out with The Kid (when she wasn't hiding in her room). We ended up outside and I heard an awful squawking going on in the backyard... A look revealed three swallow-tail kites causing the ruckus in my trees that overlook the neighbor's chicken coop. (Yikes!) I grabbed the camera only to discover I had a dirty, hazed-up lens, and missed the opportunity at some awesome shots of the birds.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers, sunset, Florida

  6:52 and a clean lens... I think the time on my camera is off, because it's closer to 8 p.m. Another beautiful Florida sunset right in my backyard, and not one stitch made all day. As far as that opinion from The Kid went, she didn't really give me much of an answer other than "I think those are the kind of shoes you only wear around the house". Well, fine... If she doesn't like them, then I can always use them for trips out to the shed.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  ...Days later... This is as far as I've gotten on the first shoe. My hands hurt more with each round, and the shoes... No, just one shoe... It looks uglier to me every time I look at it. I hate pink. I hate bows. Heck, I hate shoes! (Unless they're boots...) I hate how this stupid shoe keeps flopping in the way as I work. Most of all, I hate how my hands hurt. Maybe this is a quick and easy project for other crocheters, but not for one who's hands are affected by rheumatoid arthritis (or any other disability). I'm hanging up the hook on this one and frogging the yarn I've worked up. I can create other amazing, beautiful patterns, and I think this blog proves it. But this project? This is just a flip that ended in a major flop.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Found: Crochet

crochet, mystery item, cover, pouch, found, construction site, Rip van Winkle

  A mystery item! What could it be? I don't know, because this hand-made item wasn't made by me... It was found somewhere at a construction site, and Rip van Winkle took a picture to show me that night. But what is it? I'm not sure... Although the thoughts from the guys were truly impure. 


  My guess is that this crocheted item must be either an eyeglass case, or a cover for something like a shovel handle... Rip was on a job-site and found it in the sand. I find it a bit sad that the guys had to joke about it being a "warmer" for a body part (*SIGH* C'mon guys, grow up...), therefore nobody picked it up to return it to the owner. 

  It's sewn flat on one end to close, and open on the other. A bit too long to be a cell phone holder, but perhaps too narrow to be an eyeglass case as I first thought. It looks to be made in an acrylic yarn, though it's hard to tell with it covered with sand in a cell phone picture. 

crochet, mystery item, cover, pouch, found, construction site, Rip van Winkle

  The things I wonder more than what it is: Who made it? Is the owner missing it or was it discarded? And where do I get that yarn? Also: Since when does Rip van Winkle know enough about crochet to spot an item like this? Oh, how I wish he had picked it up so it could be returned...

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, July 21, 2017

DIY Charts with Stitch Fiddle

  I do believe I've mentioned the Stitch Fiddle website a few times, but surely not enough. Today, let me give this amazing (FREE) program more than just a mention... Let's play and learn how to use it!

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  Although you can use Stitch Fiddle for free, the options are somewhat limited. Of course, you could buy your way into using all the gizmos if you want. Before I spend money on something, I like to try it out. And that's why I love that you can actually USE the software with the free version - It's not just some free trial that ends in 7 days. (I'll show you those limits at the end of this post.) Now, let's learn a few of the things you can do with this amazing free tool:

  First, choose your craft. You can create knitting and embroidery projects, too, but I'll only be showing you the crochet side of Stitch Fiddle.

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  And one more thing: It would be great for you to turn off your ad-blocker if you use one. The nice people at Stitch Fiddle have made this awesome tool available to us, and the page is not distastefully plastered with ads - It's just one little one at the bottom of the page. Be nice back (like you do for me, right?) and let them make a few pennies.

  Now, what do you want to create? Choose "crochet with colors" to create a picture graph, "filet crochet" to easily make a filet chart, or "free form" to make anything your heart desires:

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1. PICTURE GRAPHS

Design your own, or upload any picture you want to turn into a graph. Here are a few I've created:

(They are minimized for the sake of space... Click on the graphs to see what they really look like when expanded.)
chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial
chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial


chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial
chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial


chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial
chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

  Those are all very detailed pictures that would be hard (for me) to convert into crochet by eye. And they wouldn't be easy projects, either... I had to increase that sunset to a grid of 300 x 300 to get the resolution clear enough. I used photos that were already resized to a smaller image, but I tried again with one resized to more pixels. I also wished I had increased the colors to include the purple of the clouds, so I tried that, too:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

  Okay, so maybe this is something better done with a less-detailed picture. I just love that dramatic sunset, and I wish I could turn it into an afghan. Now that I know 20 colors still won't get me the image I'm looking for, I don't think I want to take on such an elaborate project.


2. FILET CHARTS

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  I'm not sure if there's a glitch in the site or if it's on my end... I couldn't get the "make your own" chart to load. (Summer thunderstorms have been causing internet trouble again, so I bet it's me.) So just to show you, I used the same photo of the amaryllis flower from above to create a filet grid:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

I did the same again with the picture of the cat:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

  Uh... Obviously, this is another case where a less-detailed photo would convert to a better project. But to be fair, I've yet to use this feature to create a real filet project. I was only playing around to see how the pictures could compare in different forms.


3. FREE FORM

  My favorite! You'll get a blank space to create a design in any shape or form you like. There are options already available for basic stitches when you begin your project:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

Select the option shown above to add more advanced stitches that aren't found in the main options:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

To make your chart easier to work on, use a new layer for each row or round:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

Not good at putting the symbols in place manually? Select all the symbols in the layer at one time, then right-click:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

Choose whether you want to align them in the round, vertically, or horizontally:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

  And remember to create a new layer for each round/row! I like to add a new symbol to change the color, to make rounds more distinguishable...

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

But, you can make the chart all in one color if you like. It's easier that way.

  When you're all done, you'll find options under "file" to save, download, copy, or print. You can also share your design with the world, or upgrade to Stitch Fiddle Premium for more options:

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial


  As for the limits of the free version: I find they don't limit me much at all! But if you want to be able to download your chart in another file form or size, then you'll need to upgrade to premium...

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

chart, crochet, crochet symbols, diagram, DIY, downloadable, filet crochet, free, graph, how to, make your own, Stitch Fiddle, tutorial

  All the limited fields are marked with an asterisk, so you know right away that it's not available to you in the free version. Now that I've used the program for a few designs here on the blog, I think I'm ready to make the upgrade to premium. I can't wait to try out the conversion tool that will turn your filet charts into written directions... I hope you're ready for more free patterns after I make the purchase!


  This can be a great tool to turn a picture of a loved one into a memorial afghan, get started on a design in your mind, or to convert a written pattern into an easier-to-read format. Don't forget to sign up so you can save your unfinished projects, then come back later. It's okay... I've been a member for a while, and they don't spam or sell your email. And don't worry - All your designs are private unless you choose to share them. So, what are you waiting for? What will you create?

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Improvising

  It looked great on the hanger. Not my color, but the kind of style I'd wear... So, I committed to adding it to my wardrobe and welcomed it into my home. Soon after, I realized this (clothing) relationship was going nowhere. 

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

  It all started at the outlet store: This looked to be a dressy-casual blouse that could be paired with a jacket or other accessories. A modest V-neck, full back that ran into a short collar, and tank sleeves that sort of flowed into a pleated front. Again, not my color... But for $6, I could wear that! And the shirt has now been stuffed in my drawer for about a year. So, what happened? Where did it all go wrong?

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

  Before I'm accused of impulse buying, I should explain what I'm like when I'm not yarn shopping... I really, truly despise having to shop for clothes. 1) They (almost) never have my size. 2) Not everything comes in black. 3) My sense of style is offended by the options available. 4) There are other people in the store. 5) I could be spending money on more yarn instead. 6) My skin crawls at the thought of trying on clothes. 7) Glitter. ✨ 8) Colors.🌈 9) The music is lame. 💩 10) And did I mention this is not the yarn store?

  To save my sanity, I have a system of shopping on a $10 per-item limit at outlet stores. It's something other than "impulse" buying. It's more like "please get me out of here" buying. I pick up what looks good within the budget, take it home and wash it first, then I try it on. I'm pretty good at judging things, but occasionally items don't fit and get dumped on The Kid or charity. Then there's this top, which fell into a shapeless mess after the first wash. "Machine wash, lay flat to dry", and FLAT is all I'll ever get out this pillowcase-like disaster of a garment that's a bit too large.

  The pleating (or is that ruching/gathering?) that ran around the underarms washed out somehow, which left the sides hanging loose. To add to the mess, my lack of size "up top" let the cross-over front close up around my neck. It looked more like a kimono. The sleeveless design hung too far out on my shoulders, and it was not flattering to my figure. This top is a disaster

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

Or... Is it? I did some digging in the yarn stash and found a suitable color to match...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

Worked up a quick "band" of 8 foundation double crochet...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

And (temporarily) joined it around the too-wide sleeve with a slip stitch to check for fit...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

I then pulled out the slip stitch and joined with a false stitch for a nice smooth join, and wove the tail through the bottom end to close...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

It looked like a mess on the table, so I tried it on before continuing. Not bad! Okay, time to repeat for the next side...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial

  I still thought it looked horrible on the table. But then, it looked great on the hanger, didn't it? This is just that kind of garment that doesn't take its true shape until you put it on. The bands served their purpose to tighten up the sleeves, and it brought back some of the pleated look to the front of the shirt.

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial


As for what was left of the ball of scrap...

upcycle, crochet, alterations, sleeveless blouse, how to, easy, quick fix, top, tutorial, cat, Lucky

  The Kid was hovering while I worked. I wasn't sure if she was after my shirt or the fuzzy-soft yarn, so I offered up the yarn. She commenced practicing her pom-pom making skills. Having never made them with bulky-weight yarn, she seemed inspired to work with a new material. I was impressed by her idea. The cat... Well... Lucky was about as excited as I am with clothes shopping. I promise I gave her extra treats to make up for this indignity.

Happy Crocheting!