Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Time for a Break
Help, I'm not making any progress!

  If you follow the Crochet is the Way blog regularly, you know that I've taken on even more charity projects than I normally do. And you may have noticed the lack of a free pattern for February's charity Scarf of the Month... And it's the end of March!

  Well, the Scarf of the Month pattern is supposed to go up the month after it was designed, but it's not supposed to be this late. Sometimes, life (or, insert other four-letter-word here) happens. And sometimes, your kids are on Spring Break and they never let you get any work done, because they don't understand that you're still working, even though you haven't left the house. And sometimes, you would have finished the Scarf of the Month, but you had to pick up extra work to afford the yarn, and that took time away from working on it, then you finally get it done, and somebody looks at it and says "What's that supposed to be?", and it totally makes you question your design skills and rip the whole 80" scarf back apart in a frenzy of self-skill-hate.

  Got all that?

  So, maybe you get it, maybe you don't. Maybe my run-on sentences have already chased you away, and there's no point in me writing anything else because you're not reading it anymore. But, I know that many of you come back time and again to read what I have to say. And so many of you always have something nice to say back, some word of encouragement, or an expression of sympathy, even though you don't know me personally. And I love that. It shows me that there are good people out there who take the time to listen to what someone is saying, and at least act like they care. Thank you.

  Now, it's time for me to take a break. Not from crochet work, just from the blog. The last time I said that, I missed one post and came right back to it. But this time, I need a break! I'm not abandoning the blog, it's not like I'll be gone for a year or anything, and I'll still be posting. But no more free patterns for a few weeks. Just a few weeks. What I'd like to do is concentrate on the World's Biggest Stocking Project, and do a totally-unofficial-and-not-really-a-crochet-along-at-all.

  You'll be seeing progress of my work on the blanket(s), and if you choose to crochet one of them along with me, I'll be here to help any of you "newbies" that need it. Just drop me a question, and I'll see if I can help you out! But - because the patterns aren't mine, and I'm not affiliated with any of the companies involved in the project, I want to make it clear that it's not an official crochet-along (if you can even call it that). I'll only be posting my progress on my work, and you will have to download the patterns for yourself, and work along with me if you choose.

  I really wanted to get that Scarf of the Month pattern posted before I took a break. Contrary to what that Google + profile badge says, I'm not really superwoman. Not all the time. And I'm definitely not supermom. Although I'd like to be. What do you do when you tell kids to clean their room, and they don't do it? In my house, I stop working and clean it for them. No, no, no... Not like, I go in and clean it up for them. As in the old-fashioned "if you don't pick your toys up, I will" kind of way. They go in a box (the toys, not the kids), and I keep them for a while. They get to earn them back. How many of your parents did that to you, but you never saw your things again? I had to go donate my stuff to Goodwill once. And afterwards, I went outside to play, and learned not to do that again! I grew up to be (almost) perfectly normal.

  Maybe I'm too soft. I just can't bring myself to permanently get rid of their things. I remember the feeling when you don't get your stuff back. I also remember the lessons that taught me. So I meet that method in the middle, allowing them to earn their stuff back with good behavior. But, they never seem to learn their lesson in the end, and go back to destroying their room and telling me they cleaned it, even though they didn't. And doing things like this morning's episode of sock-cutting. Why did we cut our sock? Apparently because we "felt like it".

  Perhaps I should add, because this sounds like the behavior of an unsupervised three year-old, and you all might be getting worried about my attentiveness as a parent, that they are ten and twelve. They should know better. (I thought)

  I'm not looking for sympathy; I never do. I always appreciate encouragement; who doesn't? But what I need now is physical help (and a babysitter), and that's not something you guys can do for me. I have a closet full of grocery bags waiting to become plarn (that the kids refuse to help with). I have a disorganized yarn stash, even though I swear I just tackled that project. I'm only sleeping three hours a night, and I haven't taken a real day off in over two years. I have two children that are both wonderful and beautiful to me, but to be honest, they don't listen (at all!) when Mom says she needs to be working. So, I'm getting farther and farther behind, and that's why I'm taking a get-caught-up break. Even though they have put the brakes (no pun intended) on some of my blog projects, this weekend my kids gave me some of the best encouragement I've ever received.

  I tried to explain to them that I need to work extra-hard to get the Scarf of the Month done, because it's for charity. And I explained that they'll need to go play by themselves a little more, to give me time to finish the extra work I picked up. They asked me why I make stuff for charity, if I don't get paid for it. "Because there's always someone in need that can benefit from my skills." They asked me why I buy the yarn when I could use more money myself. "Because I have a donate button, and people can help me out if they want." They asked me how much money has been donated. "None." They asked me why I still do it, if nobody donates. "Because I like to crochet anyways, I get to put the free pattern on my blog, and I try to do as much as I can, while still making sure our bills are paid and there's food on the table." Then they both asked me if the next time they had some money, if instead of buying toys, they could each give me $20 for my charity program.


  Then, they interrupted me twenty times while writing this post, so that it took over two days to finish. Still angels. With crooked halos.

I'll try to get the Scarf of the Month pattern posted soon. Then it's going to be all about #crochetforcharity for a while!

P.S. My kids like metal music, too! Since they seem to be the theme of today's Yarn Tales Tuesday, this week's YTT song of the day is one of their favorites! This song is 100% profanity-free and absolute nonsense; I don't know how these guys actually make money, but they're awesome. Yes, "Dogs Like Socks" is a "real" song:

P.P.S. Yaaaaaaay! I finally got my new camera! I took the pictures for today's post using a simple setting, now I have to figure out the rest of the bells and whistles!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Hello, Spring!
Let's "spring" into action!
Warning: I'm rambling on again...But I promise to get to a point.

  Since spring is going to officially be here three days from now, I thought I would bring it to your attention. You know, just in case you don't see flowers popping up everywhere and you haven't noticed the temperature climbing. Wait, climbing? In my area, we went from a night of freezing temperatures to highs in the eighties in about 24 hours!

No, not that kind of spring!

This kind of spring!

  To those of you in the snow (Is there any left? Send it here; it's hot already!) I bet you're telling me to stop bragging. I'm not bragging, although I do love the warmer temperatures. Living in Florida, when you walk outside to a sheet of ice on your car, you get a "We're not in Kansas anymore" sort of feeling. It's like, "Where did that come from and how do I get rid of it?" Okay, it's a lot more like "Omg, what do I do? What do I doooooo?", but we'll just pretend like it's not really that bad, and maybe I can keep a little of my dignity. 

"Yeah, right."

  So, being a person who doesn't like the cold, I lack a bit of experience. Like, I can't drive in the snow, because I've never seen it. Like, I don't know what it's like to go sledding or build a snowman, because that kinda requires snow, right? Like, I don't know what it's like to have a "white" Christmas. And I don't care, because I don't like the cold. I'll stay right here, where I can freak out over a simple sheet of ice on my car, and not have to deal with stuff like snow shoveling and (insert snow problem here). See, I know so little about snow, that I can't think of anything else for a problem other than shoveling snow! But I'm sure you "snowies" (I hope that's not some kind of insult I don't know about) can fill in enough for yourselves.

"They keep saying spring is coming... We're still looking for it!"

  -You know, I used to really, really want to see snow someday. But, I got too old for that dream about the time I turned 25. Give me my bathing suit and a beach.

Ahh! Sunshine!

  And although we do get a few days that allow me to display my cold-weather crochet accessories, there isn't much need for a ton of warm clothing here. So, my crochet suffers. When you live in Florida, and you wear a scarf, people look at you like you're crazy. Never mind that it's 50°, and feels colder with the wind chill. Never mind that I'm cold... People will ask you "Why are you wearing a scarf? We live in Florida". And it gets to a point where you get a little embarrassed to display your work.

  Hey! Why am I embarrassed? That's not me! This is me: You know what? I'll wear a scarf if it's 90° outside, if I want to! I'll wear a matching hat with it, too. I'll wear that along with two different socks, flip flops, suspenders, and a chicken on my head, if I want to. Who are you to tell me what to wear?

  But seriously, there really isn't much need for a ton of cold weather accessories. And that's part of the reason I started the Scarf of the Month program. I'm tired of making everything light and lacy! I want to make something thick, warm, and fluffy, even if it's just to say I made it, and not to wear it. But, it's left me with a bit of a dilemma: If I don't need super-warm accessories, people in my local area won't have much use for them, either. So, where should I donate my scarves?

  Although I've never been there, I have ties to the state of Ohio through my other half, and it's also where my favorite radio morning show hails from. After reading about the high rates of homelessness in the state, I'm considering finding a charity there that would accept my donations.

  And even though I'd love to keep charity a little closer to home, it's actually quite difficult to donate anything around here. Donation centers are overfull of clothing, and most are turning down any more because they have rooms packed to the ceiling with stuff they can't get rid of. Let me add that I think perhaps they're not trying hard enough. I don't mean to be rude... It's just that when you call them to donate, they ask for monetary donations only. And when you ask them if they can direct you to a center that is accepting donations, they don't know. Maybe they're just overwhelmed, but it seems like they don't really want to help. Well, I don't have money. I spent it all on yarn, so scarves are what you get! Need money? Auction them off to the public as the one-of-a-kind fashion accessories that they are!

  ...And even though I don't belong to a church, I contacted a few to see if they could use the donations. You know, like, send them to a mission they might be a part of, or something. Yeah... They wanted money, too. And for me to join the church. But they didn't want my scarves. Am I wasting my time? I don't mean to sound whiny, but isn't there a single needy person somewhere that would love to wrap up in the warmth of one of my scarves? It seems to me like there are plenty of people in need... Why can't I get a charity to take them? Will my scarves ever find a home?

  I considered donating them to a bigger, national charity, but many of them I have researched donate items to hospitals. That's fine, and I have no problem with it, but there is one thing that worries me: I'm a crocheter, so you know I have cats, right? And people are usually in a hospital setting because they are sick, and being exposed to pet fur/dander can be really bad for some sick people. On one hand, I (try to) keep my cats out of my yarn. For personal stuff, I'll leave it on a chair or something, and usually face the consequences. But for my Scarf of the Month yarn, and anything I purchase to gift/sell, I keep it locked up in bags and tell the kitties to stay out. On the other hand (you probably have more fingers), I've heard that fiber can become contaminated just by being in the same household as pets. And laundering isn't always enough to remove allergens. So, what do I do?

  I have a "special" cleaner/sanitizer that is made for hard surfaces and fabric. It's not really "special", I get it at the hardware store, it's just "super-awesome-special" to me, because it's my miracle cleaner. It kills viruses, bacteria, pet odors, and it saved my carpet after my 120+ lb dog had a seizure in the living room. (That...was a really big mess, we don't need to explain it more, do we?) It even removed the cigar smoke odor from my favorite jacket after card night at a friend's house, and it claims to be usable for "sewage spill" cleanup. Eeeeww. But, good to know. If it does all that, I bet it kills any allergens that might be in my scarves. So when I get done with them, I treat them with this cleaner, launder them again in a dye-free, fragrance-free detergent, and then pack them up nice and tight in vacuum-sealed bags.

"I should be their mascot!"

  ...And now they wait for a home. But, I'm still afraid to donate them to someone who could have a reaction to any contaminates. As much as I'd like to help out hospital charities, that may be better left to pet-free crocheters. (Wait, you mean there's crocheters who don't have cats? OMG!)

What? There's wild humans out there that aren't owned by a cat? We need to get this problem under control!

  So, here's (finally) the point to "Spring into action". Will you help me? Where will my scarves go? Like I said, I would love for them to go somewhere in the state of Ohio, but I'm not picky about charity. Do you know of somewhere that would be willing to take/is in need of my scarves? Let me know! Since I still haven't received any donations for the program (Guilt trip! Just kidding), I'm a little (?) buried in work, trying to make up for the money I spent on yarn. Can somebody do a little leg work for me and suggest an accepting charity? I won't be donating them until the end of 2015, so there's plenty of time to help me out.

If you happen to come across a charity asking for scarf donations, please keep the Scarf of the Month program in mind! 


Enjoy Spring!

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to: Make a Raised Seashell Motif

  I really wish I could have included this in the same post as the Seashell Soap Saver pattern, but there were too many pictures!  After taking photos of the soap saver in progress, I discovered that it was too confusing to see what's going on in the picture. So - I've done a neat little thing here - Instead of the pattern being worked in the round as for the soap saver, this tutorial shows it worked in rows.

  (That means, if you want to use this raised motif for another pattern, you've got it!)

  Without the extra chains behind the work, this row version is so much clearer. Now, keep in mind - It will look a bit different when you work it in the round, because you won't be turning. However, the stitches are all symmetrical, so it works either way!

If you're using this tutorial for the Soap Saver (SS), find the round you'll be working into in parenthesis ( ) . 

To those of you who are using this for your own designs, and not for the Soap Saver (SS) pattern, sorry, you'll have to put up with a few unnecessary explanations as you follow along. But here's some bonus info for you: You can work this pattern with any number of chains! Need help adjusting it? Just ask. 

Everybody, look for the asterisks (*) to compare differences.

Let's get started!

-You'll see a few abbreviations - 
Chain (ch)
Chain space (ch-sp)
Double crochet (dc)
Slip stitch (sl st)
  -SS is for Soap Saver

*First, take a look at what we have after Round One of the SS pattern. You can still see the chain-3 space of Round Two, but here, it's part of Row One. (Let's just pretend that the beginning chain counts as Round 1 of the SS.) Row Two and Three here are the chain-4 spaces of Round Three and Four in the SS pattern. An extra double crochet is added to the edges where another chain space would be in the SS pattern. 

*For everybody: I told you you can work this pattern with any number of chains; as in chain-(...). You'll still need to work this pattern over three rows of chains (meaning, start in the 4th row).

Make 1 double crochet (dc) in the last available dc before the chain space. 

For all of the following stitches: Bring the yarn in front of the work. Insert the hook from front to back under the chain space, then back to the front of the work from above the chain space. You will be grabbing the yarn from the side facing you, instead of from behind the work.

*For the SS pattern, chain (ch) 1.

*Everybody else: You may need to adjust the number of chains you make, depending on where you want the motif to sit. If you're using more chains across, you'll need to make more chains here. -or- You can also make more than one motif in a long chain!

Make 1 dc in the chain space (ch-sp) of (Round 2) the third row down.

The top of the current row will fold down a bit once you work this stitch.

Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 3) the next row up.

You may find it easier to rotate the pattern slightly, so you're working right to left (opposite for lefties), instead of from the bottom up.

Make a double crochet around both ch-sps of (Round 3 and 4) the current and next row.

Because you're working into an open row at the top, you can grab the yarn for this and the next two stitches from behind as usual.

Ch 1. Make a dc in the ch-sp of (Round 4) the last row only.

Chain 1. Make 1 dc around both ch-sps of (Round 3 and 4) the top row and the next row.

Time to work with the yarn in front again! Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 3) the middle row only.

Again, you may find it easier to rotate your work so that you're working in the proper direction, instead of downwards. However, if you turn to work in the correct direction here, your yarn will be coming from the opposite direction, and you will have to insert the hook from left to right (opposite for lefties). Be careful to not twist the stitches, or turn in the same direction as before, and work to the right (left for lefties).

Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 2) the first row only.

*For SS pattern, ch 1.

*Everybody else: Make the same number of chains as before the first lower dc.

Dc in the next dc.

*SS pattern: We're picking up here at the first dc after the fpdc in Round 6.

*Everybody else: You'll need to make 1 dc in the dc before the chain-1 (or other number of chains)

*SS pattern: Your chain-1 spaces will be forward and easier to find!

Ch 1, dc in the ch-sp.

Locate the chain-1 spaces on either side of the middle double crochet.

Sl st in the first available ch-sp, ch 1, sl st in the next ch-sp.

Dc in the next ch-sp.

Ch 1, dc in the next dc.

(Shown here with dc in the next st also. Back side of motif visible)

Chain (4) an equal number of chains over the motif in the next (round) row to continue the pattern.

(Front side of motif shown)

  It was created for the Soap Saver - What else would you use this pattern for? I've already got some ideas of my own!

Free Pattern: Scallop Seashell Soap Saver

  If you're making the Scallop Seashell Washcloths, you might enjoy this matching soap saver! This little mesh pouch uses mostly chains to stretch that last bit of yarn, but the cute little raised seashell motif makes it the perfect compliment to the washcloths. Use the remainder of your yarn from creating two washcloths to complete the set!

  With a finished length of 3 1/2" (9 cm) and a circumference of 7" (18 cm), this pouch looks a little small at first! But, slide a bar of your favorite soap inside, and watch it fit like a glove. This combination of chains, post stitches, and double crochet will stretch to fit.

  Even if you're advanced enough to say "I love front-post stitches", you may find the placement of the basic double crochet a bit strange when working the motif in Round 5. With so many step by step pictures, I had to make a separate post for it, but you can find a tutorial for help! Click here for tutorial.

Skill level:

Worsted weight (4) cotton yarn
- I used Peaches & Creme in Pastel Delight
Crochet hook size I/9 - 5.50MM
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends
Stitch markers (optional)

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm) -
14 dc in 7 rows

-or- 1st row of pattern = 2" (5 cm) across

Chains at beginning of rows counts as a stitch and a chain. (example: Ch 4 = chain 3 for a double crochet, + chain 1)

Need help with the stitch placement of the raised motif? Check out this post for a tutorial!

This pattern will use up all the yarn left from making two washcloths. The yarn used comes in 95 yard (86 M) balls, and I had absolutely no scraps left after making this soap saver.

*If you're using a different brand, you should be fine if it comes in a 95 yd (86 M) ball or bigger.

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Double crochet (dc)

Front post double crochet (fpdc)

Begin/beginning (beg)
Space/s (sp/s)


*Hey! Here's an extra tip before you begin: Until you get to Round 5, double crochet stitches will be made into double crochet stitches, and front post stitches will be made on post stitches. Stitches will not be worked into chain spaces until Round 5. And remember to check out the Round 5 tutorial if you need help!

Round 1:
Ch 4, dc in farthest ch from hook. Ch 1, make (dc, ch 3, dc, ch 1, dc, ch 1, dc) in same st. Ch 3, join with a sl st in beg ch-3.

Round 2:
Ch 4, fpdc in the next dc. *Ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 3,* dc in next dc. Ch 1, fpdc in next dc, repeat from * to *. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 3:
Ch 4, fpdc in next fpdc. *Ch 1, dc in next dc, ch 4,* dc in next. Ch 1, fpdc in next fpdc, repeat from * to *. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 4:
Repeat Round 3.

Round 5:
Ch 4, fpdc in next fpdc. Ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 1, dc in ch-2 sp of Round 2. Dc in ch-4 sp of Round 3, dc over ch-4 sps of Rounds 3 and 4. Ch 1, dc in ch-4 sp of Round 4. Ch 1, dc over ch-4 sps of Rounds 3 and 4, dc in ch-4 of Round 3. Dc in ch-3 sp of Round 2. Ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 1, fpdc in next fpdc, ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 4, join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 6:
Ch 4, fpdc in next fpdc  Ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 1, dc in ch-1 sp. Sl st in ch-1 sp before middle dc of motif, ch 1, sl st in ch-1 sp. Dc in next ch-1, ch 1, dc in next dc. Ch 1, fpdc in next fpdc, ch 1, dc in next dc, ch 4. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 7:
Repeat Round 3.

Round 8:
Ch 2, *sc in next dc, (ch 1, sc) twice in ch-4 sp.* 1 sc in next dc, ch 1. Repeat from * to *. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

For drawstring and loop:

Do you have enough yarn left? It looks close! This is what I have:

Ch 20.

Weave tail end of chain back and forth through ch-1 sps of Round 8 (try to keep chain from twisting):

Begin by inserting tail from front to back in ch-1 sp above fpdc.

Pull the tail out through the next ch-1 sp, continue weaving back and forth to the ch-1 sp before start. The tail should exit towards the outside just as the working end does. Join with a sl st in beg ch.

Ch 30.

Join in sl st just made (stitch above the "Y").

Bind off, follow stitches to weave in ends.

  The weight of the soap will automatically close the drawstring when you pick up the pouch!