Thursday, August 25, 2016

Being the Dummy

  I am so happy with the re-design of my latest shawl, but I hit a point of uncertainty with the last row... The problem is, I like how it looks when flat, but I'm not sure about when it's worn. I decided to do my best at modeling it, so I could ask for some opinions about it. I wasn't terribly successful and ended up getting a laugh more often than a usable photo.

  The good news is: I made up my mind while taking the pictures, so now I don't have to beg for opinions. The other good news is: I'm going to let all of you laugh at my ridiculous attempt at being the model. And don't try to make me feel better!... I'm having too much fun laughing. More good news is: I'm not ripping it back - It's done! There is no bad news: Just bad modeling.

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

  With the last row's stitches not bound off yet, I stuffed the yarn ball in my pocket and set to getting that usable photo... Which leaves me stuck using the bathroom mirror, so I hope you enjoy my ugly wall paper. Since it's from the 80's, let's call it "almost vintage". Why am I taking pictures in a mirror when I have a smart phone with a front-facing camera? Because I can't fit the whole shawl in the frame, and there's not enough light.

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

  I'm not a selfie-taker. I'm awkward. I'm known for having bad posture, standing in weird positions, and making strange faces. But hey, you can still get an idea of how awesome that shawl is, right? After reviewing the photos, I realized that I can't hate the last row - It just needs some blocking!

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

  30 minutes later, I had those few semi-usable pics. But I didn't need them for opinions anymore! I'm happy with the shawl; I know what needs to be done to make it right. And that's when I remembered that I have a tripod, and my camera can be set to take multiple photos. Oh, why didn't I think of that before?

  Just one more thing to do before I bind off: I think I'll try blocking it beforehand, to make sure that will fix it. But first, I have to redo the stitches I ripped out while playing dummy. Do you know a locking stitch marker is a great tool for saving active stitches from undoing? And wouldn't you know that I skipped that step, because it would be okay.
Fixed, blocked, and...

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

  Success! Yay, happy dance! While it was blocking, I thought I would give that tripod a try, and attempted to get photos of my other shawl that still needs pictures before the pattern can be published. It further proved I need a dummy...

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Okay, that's an okay pic, right? You can kind of see the shawl...

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

But what is this? "Look at my elbow"?...

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

And where, oh where did that big butt come from? That's when I realized that my tripod was too low, and bad angles can make this size-0 butt look big.

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Oh, I'm so ashamed of my "big butt" that I'm going to hide now... Lol, not really. It's so strange how this photo came out, with parts of me and the shawl disappearing. Maybe I need to set the automatic timer up, so I don't get weird photos like that.

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Adjusted at a better angle! But, what is that? A self-exam? Reciting the pledge? I pledge allegiance to my boob?

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

That's better! But, too dark. What happened to the light when I adjusted my angle?

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Turn the light setting up and... Yay, check out some of my tattoos while I only show you half of the shawl! Arg, the tripod slipped back to a lower position again.

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Mannequin-worthy stiff pose that still doesn't show off the pattern... Hey, let's scrunch it all up so nobody can see the design!

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

A little better, but still doesn't show the project well enough. Are shawls really this hard to wear, or am I just that awkward? C'mon, girl, get it together!

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

Much, much better. Held up, properly displayed, but with the edges cut off. I know I'll need to take it outside to get farther from the camera. At least I have an idea of a pose that will show it off well if needed...

crochet, shawl, photography, fails,worsted weight, lace

And now I shall fly away like my faeries!

  It's a fact: I need a dummy. When I asked The Other Half if he could help me get some not-ridiculous photos, I received a strange stare as a response. I'll either take that as a "no", or as a clue that such a thing doesn't exist. I guess every picture doesn't have to be perfect, but I want them to be better than this. At least I had fun, and I hope you did, too. Let another dummy model these worsted-weight projects in the 100-degree Florida heat. After reviewing this post, I think I might have fried my brain while trying.

Happy Crocheting!

PS: Do any of you have some Pinterest boards or something with style tips? All I have/wear/need/want is tank tops and jeans! What would you wear with shawls like these?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ideas, WIPs and Rips

  I shared a bit of my craziness design process in the last post, and I'm back with an update. Even though I need to be finishing that stitch tutorial I started, despite having a pile of WIP's, instead of publishing two patterns that are waiting, and against my promise of no new projects, I can't stop hooking up designs with the Boutique Unforgettable that I picked up.

  I can't help it. At first, the color called to me and I couldn't wait to work with new yarn. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Idea after idea rolled out of my mind, so quickly that I can't really keep up with them. But one main thing is sticking in my brain: Each new color I work with is inspiring a story as I daydream over the changing shades. So even though that last design was pretty, it didn't fit in with my story... Ripping back was needed, and I'm happy with the results.

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  So, does that prove how weird I am? Yarn colors have re-ignited my old passion for writing fiction, and I've been daydreaming up plots while I crochet. I don't know what made the gears turn in that direction, but the machine is running and I can't stop it. Strange or not, I want to write out the stories that have been forming through the design process, and publish them along with the patterns.

  It's not a new idea - I've seen novels that include craft projects or recipes along with the read - But I think mine will just be simple, short stories for the crocheter to get a glimpse at what inspired the design. Again, maybe not a new idea, but a format I haven't seen yet.

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  Maybe when most people look at that design, they see color-changing lace. I see the story that I was daydreaming up; each row a mathematical equation with a reason behind it. Maybe it's a bit of craziness, but it's crazy-cool to me. This is the reason why I don't need to watch television.

  Now, I'll stop rambling about the inner workings of my brain, and just get back to a simple crochet topic. Ooo, pretty colors, finally in the places I want them! Adjusting the stitch count and length of the rows stretched those color changes out just the way I hoped. And look how far I got with all that yarn left over! No second skein needed.

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  It's still a work in progress at this point, but I think I'm on my final row. Maybe I'll make a border up the sides; maybe I won't. Right now, I'm stuck on how I want to end that last row. You know that mathematical equation I mentioned? It worked for the increasing rows, but I can't get it to work out right for an edging. So I'm playing around with different counts that fit into the story:

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  And then it will be done! Well, wait; no it won't be done, because I still have to write the story to go with it. And there's always the weaving of the ends, which my brain loves to skip. Oh, forget all that and just have another pretty picture of this project:

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  And then I'll need to get a dummy to put this on for some display pics, unless I can get The Other Half to help with me as the dummy... But ugh, I hate modeling things. I know one thing for sure: This beautiful design deserves more than being draped over a table:

Red Heart, Boutique Unforgettable, yarn, multicolored, shawl, crochet

  But I think that gives you an idea of how it will look when worn. Except, people's backs aren't flat like a table... Oh, what a mess! My brain decided to spit out all this wonderful goodness, and I don't have the means to display it properly! I'm just going to calm down, go play with pretty yarn, and worry about that later. I don't want to get too distracted and miss my date with those fairies in the woods.

  And then I'll have to turn everything into a PDF, remember how to use Ravelry, and promote the pattern. I might be taking some more breaks in the future, so that I don't get overloaded with the extra work. I guess I can't complain about finally getting over that designer's block, but I don't know why it had to happen in such a rush.

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, August 18, 2016


  Designing with a variegated, multicolored, or striping yarn can be a sensational event. Maybe it's just interesting for some, but it can become an emotional roller coaster for me. If you think that makes me sound a bit like a crazy person, that's okay... I kinda think the same thing. But if you'll allow me to explain myself, I'm sure there are plenty of you that will understand.

At least, I really hope so...

Crochet is the Way, design, WIP

  First, there's uncertainty: I think I liked this ball of yarn more when it was rolled up. I like some of the colors in this skein, but others don't appeal to me. And when it was all neatly wound up, the similar shades blended together better. Now that I'm working it in rows, I don't like the lighter mauve-purple next to the deeper whatever-you-call-that dark green.

  Then, acceptance: I worked a lot to get this far in the pattern... And the design itself is beautiful. Maybe in the right light, that dark green doesn't look so bad next to the pinkish-purple.

crochet, design, color changes, lace

  And on to the anger: I know I'm going to rip it out just because of a color change. I know it, and that's stupid. Don't rip it out. Do. Not... Argh! Why do I have to be so picky about this?

  Back to uncertainty: Okay, so I probably shouldn't rip back a pattern just because of one spot of color. I mean, look at a different spot... Just off to the side of that, the purple is more purple-y, and it goes better with the green. But... What about the darker purple next to the pinkish-purple? Ooo, that's not good. I don't like that, either.

crochet, design, lace, color changing,

  Determination: Do. Not. Rip back. Keep working, and the colors will all come together. I'm just looking at one little spot, instead of the big picture. I need to keep going, and trust in the yarn company's designers that made the color. They wouldn't make a yarn with colors that don't match... I just don't like a certain color next to another. That's my opinion, and it doesn't affect the pattern.

crochet, design, lace, color changing

  Relief: See? Isn't that better? See all the other spots of pretty, soothing color that match perfectly? They fade nicely into one another, and make me think of nature. Like, maybe dusk in the woods... During the springtime, with flowers... Next to a stream...

*Daydreaming of fairies in the woods*

crochet, design, lace, color changing

  Disappointment and determination again: Who am I kidding? The pattern might be beautiful, but I hate that one spot of color. In fact, I already ripped it out while daydreaming... And ripped a bit too far. I was meaning to redesign a few rows, to try to get a shift in the color changes. But I ended up with only three rows left. Well, I might as well just keep ripping, and start all over. The way it was going, I was going to have to join a second skein anyways. I have a better idea that might only use one skein. And since it's already started, here's a sneak peek:

By the way, if you didn't catch what a head case I'm being over color striping, NONE of that really matters, anyways! You can never guarantee where the color will start in a skein, and there's a ton of different dye lots, too! But hopefully by changing the stitch count, it will throw off the color pooling. Don't worry, I wrote the pattern down! I'll recreate it sometime with a solid color yarn that doesn't bother me. I might be crazy enough to rip back that whole project because of the colors, but I'm sane enough to know it was a keeper :)

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where I've Been

  Things have been so hectic around here that I haven't had much time to share what I've been doing... I mean, the one big project I've been working on: The Josephina Elephant rug by Ira Rott Designs. From the time I finally received the back-ordered yarn to the point of finishing, this project took me three weeks. But interruptions aside, I only have about five days of work in it. Now, please excuse me while I toot my own horn... Can I get a "woo-hoo"?

elephant, rug, crochet

  I'm usually not so proud of finishing a design that's not my own, but this one has me smiling big. The simple double crochet of the head: Got it. The popcorn and picot stitches of the ears: No problem. The joining of the pieces: Okay, not my favorite job, but I'm more than capable. So, what's the big deal about me finishing this project?

  First, there is the blocking required for the ears. I shy away from large designs that need shaping because of space/cats. (Translation - If I can find the space, a cat will find its way there.) I was able to fit both pieces on the old ripped bath sheet I use for bigger patterns, and I put a firm foot down (along with some treats) to keep kitties away.

crochet, blocking

Sidetrack: Gotta love that texture...

crochet, texture, popcorn, lace

  So for three days in a row, I had to move the project back out of the kitchen before the pieces had a chance to fully dry and block. The Other Half says "no, I can walk around it", but he doesn't realize that he drops concrete dust everywhere he goes. I don't need those dirty work boots travelling across this pretty pattern, so I lost some time for those few days.

  It held me back at first, and then I started losing hope of finishing it. Determined to not let that happen, I decided to start weaving in some leftover ends and working on the facial features. Stacking the rest of the project on top of the ears as they blocked, I got back to work.

crochet, elephant rug, pieces

  And that's when the nightmare began. Have you ever noticed that I don't create things with facial features, or anything that requires embroidery? It's because they both drive me nuts. If an eyeball is a hair off, I'll notice it. If a stitch isn't the same length as the rest, I'll see it. Not to mention my sewing skills are horrible... This is the part of the pattern I've been dreading. And as I predicted, the event began with four hours of sitting on the floor while trying to get the eyeballs straight. One is 1/8" too low.

crochet, elephant rug, eyes

  But, I did a smart thing and left my ends loose until I finished everything. It allowed me to pull out part of the first eye and fudge it over a bit so they're even... Well, even enough. I can still see where it's off, but The Other Half swears it looks perfect to him.

  And I'm super-proud that I took the time to get over my fears and try to sew. I think I made back stitches where I was supposed to be whip stitching, but I got the job done without a rat's nest of yarn behind it:

crochet, elephant rug, sewing

  Okay, so now that the eyes are in place, I'm good, right? No, not me... I spent another hour trying to decide where to place the bow while also thinking about redoing the eyes.

crochet, elephant rug, bow

  I left the eyes and the bow alone for a while, and moved on to the next scariest part: Chain stitching the eyebrows. Oh, a chain stitch? I can crochet that... Wait, what do you mean it's EMBROIDERY? No... No, I can't do that. 

crochet, elephant rug, embroidery, eyebrows

  I did it, ha ha! I'm pretty sure I made those stitches backwards from the way you're supposed to, but I did it. It took me two hours of pulling the yarn back out and trying again, but I did it. And that was just for the first eyebrow...

  Despite lots of ripping and trying again, I thought I was doing a really good job. Just the fact that I sewed something in a pretty-straight line was enough to make me happy. Getting the first eyebrow finished was an accomplishment like no other, and it boosted my confidence. I can do this. By counting the stitches and comparing to the first, I found the placement of the second eyebrow much easier. I chain-stitched on with newfound belief in myself. And then...

crochet, embroidery, sewing, fails
  I thought the yarn felt funny as it pulled through! Since I didn't need that tape measure for the placement anymore, it somehow found its way back into my project. Oh well! I had a laugh over it, ripped out a few stitches to retrieve my tape, and moved on to finish without more mishaps.

crochet, elephant rug, finished

  I even became so confident in my (lack of) embroidery skill that I added an extra feature that wasn't part of the pattern. Still noticing that the eyes are a bit too low and the eyebrows are a little high, I thought some cute little eyelashes might fix what I saw wrong. Using the long tails I had cut from the eyes, I made something like a running stitch to create the lashes.

crochet, elephant rug, embroidery, eyelashes

  Now, let me stop tooting my own horn and explain something: This isn't a pattern that I would have made on my own. I have no desire to decorate my house with elephants, I don't want to embroider, and I hate creating facial features because it's an OCD nightmare. But I am so glad that Big Bro got me this little side job, because it pushed me to do what I avoid, and proved that I can do it.

  This pattern was a treat to work. The contrast in the textures of popcorn and lace is appealing to the senses. The speed of working with three strands is rewarding. And even if I'm not fond of elephants, this rug is so cute. Big Bro said the people that ordered this will be wanting a rug for each of their other two kids. I thought I'd never take in orders again, but now I'm looking forward to it.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Play Time!

  Uh, oh! With all the rain we've been having, it looks like another critter has made its way into my house... It's a good thing I have kitties to take care of the problem! Jump Steady to the rescue!

...Jump? Wanna get a mouse for me?

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

Um, Jump Steady? We need your help here!

I'm tired, leave me alone...

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

You do know that you're a cat, and that cats are supposed to chase mice, right? You should wake up and do your job!

Yes, but I'm also a cat, and cats never do what you want them to. You should know better.

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

But, I think you'd have a lot of fun if you would wake up for a little while...

Fun? I thought that was only for waking you up at 3 a.m.!

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

*Yawn* Fine... If you say so... This better be worth it...

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

Oh, a mouse!  

Yes, Jump Steady, but we need you to play with the mouse so it's visible in the photo. Can you try a little harder, please?

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

Let me get this over with faster... I'll just bite its head off so I can go back to sleep.

Well, you can't actually kill it, Jump. It's just a toy I crocheted so you will stop waking me up at 3 a.m. playing with your favorite jingle ball.

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

What? A toy? For me? It's PLAY TIME!

Yes, but, um... Jump, we still need a decent picture of you playing with the toy so I can use it in the pattern post!

crochet, cats, cat toy, mouse

Oh, you mean this whole thing was a setup? Fine. I'll take my new toy over where it blends into the carpet. Then I'll go back to sleep... I need to prepare for more 3 a.m. jingle-ball-playing, after all... 

-  -  -  -  -

  Well, I tried. He really does love the new mouse toy when the camera isn't on him. But he is a cat after all... They only pose for pictures when you don't want them to. 

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I Think I Broke It

  Before I make my confession, I should defend that I am still making progress on that elephant rug... But I definitely broke my promise of no new projects. I think it's good to have a small side-project to work on when you're making something big, and I have plenty of them that I could be finishing. I couldn't resist the skein of Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable that's been beckoning to me, and I found myself hooking up a design. Sorry.

  I don't know, should I be apologizing? Here are my justifications: 1) All of my promised projects for The Kid are on hold because of the rug. She came up with this idea and helped make decisions about how it should look. 2) Could you resist that yarn? And 3) IT'S DONE ALREADY!

fingerless gloves, gauntlets, elbow length, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable

  Okay, I lost my last yarn needle again, so I'm hiding some ends that need to be woven in. I can't call it completely done yet. But the pattern is written, and more ideas are on the way. This design is going to be for sale, and we'll see what happens with the rest of those ideas. I still have this much of the skein left to make something else:

yarn, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable, scraps

  I have so many ideas, but only one ounce of yarn left! I wish I could buy more, but I gave my word to not buy more yarn, along with the no-new-WIP promise that I already broke. I planned on making a small accessory like some boot cuffs to match, and being done with my ideas for a while. Then, The Other Half tested my strength. Yesterday he comes home and asks me:

Do you want to go to Michaels?

What? Why? Can I buy yarn?

  He needs a wooden box with a lid for a stereo that's going in his work truck. I don't understand it, and I'm not going to bother asking. I slipped on my nice shoes, thinking that the yard had mostly dried out after a few days of no rain - the walking catfish have gone and only one corner of the yard contains minnows. I managed to find a puddle anyways. So with wet feet and platform sandals, I stepped onto the bumpy concrete of the driveway to close the gate as we left. As I turned around after locking it, my foot and my shoe went two opposite directions, and I almost went face-first into the back of the car.

shoes, platform sandals, broken foot

  Distracted by the pig (yes, a pig) that was wondering around in the road, The Other Half never saw a thing. I limped back to the car, got in, and tried to explain that I was hurt. But the neighbor called to him to come over, so he drove over, all to look at a giant snapping turtle. (I live in a "fun" place.) Again I say I'm hurt; I think I broke it, but he tells me I'll be okay. So after the hillbillies men were done with their nature walk, to Michaels we went, with my foot looking like this:

foot, injury

  While at Michaels, I decided that if I was limping around the store I might as well go get those yarn needles I need to replace. I found this set of needles sold to be used with a loom... They look like regular yarn needles to me, just in a brighter color than the ones I usually get, and cheaper. Let's see if I lose these:

yarn needles, plastic, Loops & Threads, cheaper

  And since I was feeling poorly from 1) the sharp pain starting to shoot up my leg each time I took a step and 2) The Other Half's lack of caring about it, I made my way to the yarn aisle. I mean, it is only one aisle over, and I have to go back that way to check out...

Boutique Unforgettable, Red Heart, Echo, Meadow

  Yup, I know I broke it. I mean the promise, I don't know about my foot yet. (Hopefully that's just sprained.) Even though he became an enabler when he asked me to go to Michaels, I still could have resisted the craving to buy yarn. But when The Other Half refused to acknowledge that I was truly in pain, it hurt my feelings, too. I needed yarn therapy as much as I needed a doctor.  Maybe sometimes it's okay to break a promise, as long as you have a good reason and it's not hurting anyone.

Boutique Unforgettable, Red Heart, Echo, Meadow

  So, yeah, I broke it... And I shouldn't be ashamed, either! I got 20% of the whole purchase, including the box for his stereo-whatever. (Gotta love those coupons!) And I got up this morning, fed the cats, finished the second glove for the pattern, did a load of laundry, wrote out some plans for a few ideas, vacuumed the floors, did another load of laundry, and blocked my granny-love-knot shawl. Now that foot is hot and throbbing, and I feel sick to my stomach when I walk. I think I broke it, and I'm not proud of that one. After I finish that rug, I may be off my feet for a while. And since my yarn stash is buried in heavy bins, I'll need something I can get to easily. Yup... that purchase is completely justified.

Happy Crocheting!