Tuesday, September 29, 2015


  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love free stuff! Who doesn't? I love chances to WIN free stuff, too! Life has been really busy lately, and I've found it difficult to continue sharing great giveaways like I used to do. Part of my everyday schedule was to search "yarn giveaways", "win free yarn" "crochet giveaways", and so on... Then I'd round them all up and share with my wonderful readers. There just isn't time for that anymore.

crochet, giveaway, contest, yarn

  I can share a great tip, though: When life is too busy to round up every giveaway out there, go to All Free Crochet! Some nice people over there have already rounded up a bunch of giveaways for you. There's giveaways for yarn, books, tools and hooks - you just have to visit their Giveaway Page to see what's new!

  And no, this isn't an ad or solicitation. It's more like a "thank you" to All Free Crochet. I mean, how do I (and you) win giveaways if we don't find any to enter? When you just don't have the time for every single contest out there, it's nice to go to the Giveaway Page and get in what you can.

  Plus, many of the giveaways through All Free Crochet offer you extra chances to win, like sharing on social media, a chance to enter once a day, and extra chances if you share the giveaway on your blog! *Cough, cough*... I swear that's not the point of this post. And to prove that, I won't send them the link to this post. Then I don't get the extra entry. But wait... I do want them to know that I'm saying "thank you"... So, can somebody else send them the link? (Lol, thanks!)

  Right now, I really have my eye on the Mango Moon Giveaway. Forget about wool sensitivity - I want it! The colors are dreamy, I can imagine it's silkiness, and even the name of the yarn makes my mouth water. I gotta have it! Hurry up if you want a chance: This contest ends October 4th.

yarn giveaway, Mango Moon, All Free Crochet
Image from allfreecrochet.com

  -On a side note: I'm no chemist (I only play one in my kitchen when the Kid has a science project due...), but can't they make some sort of magical cream that makes sensitive skin less-sensitive? I mean, there's all of this luxurious fiber out there that other people ooh and ah over, and I know I can't touch it without feeling like I rolled in fiberglass. C'mon scientists! There has to be a cure!

  Getting back to the subject... Through October 11th, All Free Crochet is also offering a great giveaway for beginners: Click here to enter for a chance to win. For even more contests, check out their sister sites listed on the Giveaway Page. And make sure you check back, because you never know when there's going to be a new contest! Okay... Unless you subscribe to their emails. Then you'll know when there's gonna be a contest... But you gotta go back every day for more chances to win.

  I'll close with my apologies for this sounding a bit like an advertisement. I've just been using the Giveaway Page at All Free Crochet as a time-saving way to get the most out of the little spare time I have left for entering contests. I know many of you are pressed for time too, so I wanted to pass it along!

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pouring Your Heart into a Pattern

  Sometimes a pattern is more than just a pattern... Sometimes it's a way to express yourself, relieve stress, or send good wishes to another. We can simply make a pattern, or we can pour our hearts into the creation of it. Prayer shawls are a great example, for they are made while praying for the recipient. (Get more info on prayer shawls here.)

mandala, Mandalas for Wink, crochet

  Here's where I'll admit to those things we don't always like to talk about: I don't pray. I have no spiritual beliefs. (For those of you offended by that, I'm sorry.) Does that make me a horrible person? I think... No. Because I live my life straighter and more righteously than some people who have tried to drag me to church while calling me a bad person. And does that mean I shouldn't make a prayer shawl? I think... Yes, I can make a "prayer shawl". Because whether you believe or not, you can still pour your heart and good intentions into your work. You can still wish well for someone. Surely that energy carries on, no matter what you believe in.

  What I do believe is that a "prayer shawl" doesn't always have to be a shawl, or a gift to someone else. It can be any item of comfort. The pattern could be a scarf, a blanket, or a toy. It can also be any other item you chose, if you're making it to comfort yourself. Just as you can wish good intentions for others while you create a prayer shawl, anything you crochet is a chance to pour thoughts into every stitch.

crochet, mandala, Mandalas for Wink

  I'm working on a small, but really sensitive pattern that expresses just that: All of my thoughts. All. Of. Them. I've taken some pretty hard hits lately, and I sat down to create a pattern that conveys my feelings. I'm sure my lovely readers have noticed my constant complaining a downward spiral of bad situations going on around here, plus there's more personal issues that I don't talk about here on the blog. Sometimes I fear for my sanity, but I know I have the power to pull myself up again. As I designed this pattern, I thought about why some things bother me so badly, like when I was attacked on Facebook for my work on the World's Biggest Stocking. I reflected on the sadness that got so much worse after the death of my cat. At the center of it all, I took inspiration from the person the pattern was dedicated to.

crochet, mandala, Mandalas for Wink

  I was affected deeply by the loss of Wink from A Creative Being. It seems selfish to say, because I never knew her personally. But she was so much more than another online entity blogging in cyberspace. She was a beautiful but troubled person, and I hoped more than anything that she would win her battle. Ever since Wink moved on, I've been fighting with more and more problems that could potentially drag me into the same situation as her. This pattern is part of how I make sure that doesn't happen. It's just a small mandala - nothing majorly special. But it's a Mandala for Wink. And it's a mandala for me. It's a mandala for the millions of other people out there that get pushed to their breaking point time and time again...

crochet, mandala, Mandalas for Wink

  It's a mandala that I stopped working on. Temporarily. I had pulled it together. I was in a "good place", able to concentrate on my thoughts and make sense of them; concentrate that energy into my project. Then there was a phone call. That innocent phone call that the Other Half makes once in a while when he has a break. We talked about his work. Then we talked about my work. It was a five minute phone call that was coming to a close with "Okay, I gotta go"... Then one sentence was added, like an afterthought: "Oh, hey, I just wanted to let you know Dean-o killed himself."

  An old friend - No, a great friend... But one I haven't talked to in a while. That phone call left me dumbfounded. Angry. Heartbroken. Wondering. I was just talking about him just the other day, how much I missed him, and I wanted to get hold of him. Why? Why did he do it? If I had gotten in touch with him sooner, would it have made a difference? And as always, on a selfish note: Why did the Other Half have to drop it at the end of a phone call like that, to leave me sitting here crying my eyes out, with no one to talk to?

  The point of the energy going into my Mandala for Wink was to show the problems we face, how to acknowledge and accept our pain, and how to use what we have to overcome it. Every bit of that energy left me with one phone call. I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me with a baseball bat. The Other Half doesn't understand that although I haven't seen my friend in a while, I've thought about him often. He was another tortured soul that shared many a tear with me, and I've looked back quite a few times to wonder if he's okay. Because when I wasn't okay, he always had a great-big Dean-o bear hug for me that was sure to make it better. I wish I could have done more to return the favor. And I wish I could bring him back, to tell him that if he thought he was alone, he should have known someone was thinking of him. And because I could sure use one of those great-big-bear-hugs now.

   In a moment of darkness, I wonder if there's just no hope. It seems like everything good that comes into my life leaves on a wave of pain or sadness. I'm terrified that someday I'll break, and end up just like them. A religious friend tells me not to worry, "God only gives us as much as we can take". Will you please explain then; who in the hell is giving me all of this? It's more than I can take. I understand the feeling of wanting to end the pain, so you don't have to hurt anymore.

  But... I understand all to well the pain that such things leave everybody else in, and I don't want them to feel this way too. So maybe there's a glimmer of hope behind it all in the end. My Mandala for Wink is back in progress. Because I realized that what I said earlier isn't true... I do have somebody to talk to. When others turn to friends, loved ones, or God... I turn to my crochet. That's who I "pray" to. My stitches represent my thoughts, prayers, and friends. The story behind the pattern will still stay the same: A lesson in how and why to let go of the negativity. The tale just has another round of darkness added to it. This time, I'll keep my stitches closer. Surround them with more brightness. Weave in the ends with extra-long tails to make sure they never unravel... And re-dedicate the pattern. My Mandala for Wink was partly for myself as well, but not anymore. I don't need it. My Mandala for Wink is now for Dean-o, too. And all the rest I couldn't save. I know I'll be okay, because I have the power to fix myself. I just wish everybody else did, too.

crochet, mandalas, Mandalas for Wink

Keep Crocheting!
And never, ever let go...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Get Ready for I Love Yarn Day!

  Whether you knit, crochet, weave or spin, I Love Yarn Day is a special day of the year for yarn enthusiasts. This year, I Love Yarn Day 2015 will be on Saturday, October 17th, so mark your calendars! What will you do to celebrate?

I Love Yarn Day, #ILYD

  One of the most popular ways to spread the word about our special day is yarn bombing. If you've never been lucky enough to personally experience a yarn bomb event, just search "yarn bomb" on Google Images to get an idea of how crazy yarn lovers get. Bicycles, trees, and even stop signs are all at risk of being yarn bombed on I Love Yarn Day. (Though I'm not sure, I think it might be illegal in some way to yarn bomb stop signs. And fire hydrants. Cute, but not worth going to jail over.)

  I had an idea to yarn bomb a statue in town this year. I wanted to turn it into a way to benefit charity and maybe get some local support for the Scarf of the Month program. After speaking with an official about my plan, I was told I could be charged with trespassing and even vandalism. Really. Vandalism. You have to be kidding me. But sadly, they're not, so I'm abandoning my yarn bomb event. It angers me in a way... I mean, come on! It's yarn! Vandalism? And it's for charity! Vandalism? Oh well. The law is the law, and mean people will be mean people. So...

  I really don't know what else to do for I Love Yarn Day! I did a little searching about our "holiday" and found organized yarn bomb events, but none near me. Since it's hard for me to track down yarn bombings for each and every one of you, I thought I'd share some other information I came across:

  • If you're on YouTube or Instagram, check out these contests from the Craft Yarn Council! For a chance to win prizes, upload your photos to Instagram using #ILYD or #stitchitforward, or make a YouTube video showing your passion for yarn! 

  • Help spread the word! If you're a fellow blogger or you're on Facebook, you can follow this link to download banners and logos (like the one you see up top) that you can use to get others interested in I Love Yarn Day!

  • You don't have to participate in any contests to be a part of #StitchItForward! Get someone else interested in yarn and teach them your skill. 

  • And as always, I encourage #crochetforcharity! Winter will be here soon enough, and those in need require warm accessories like scarves, mittens, and hats. Make a warm item to donate to a local charity, or search online for a national charity that will accept your homemade creations. 

heart, crochet, free pattern

  Because I'll most likely be spending the day alone, I came up with a few ways that introverts can celebrate I Love Yarn Day, too:

  • Clean out your stash! If you love your yarn, then take care of it. Spend a little time organizing your yarn.

  • Be "selfish"! Make something extra-special for yourself that will always remind you of how much you love yarn... Or, if you don't need a reminder, at least make something that will bring a smile to your face.

  • Have pets? Make a toy, blankie, or an accessory so your furry friend can celebrate with you.

  • Go yarn shopping! It's I Love Yarn Day, so there's gotta be a yarn sale somewhere out there, right?

  Since my super-awesome plan was destroyed, I'm a little disappointed. Maybe I'll celebrate by sulking with my stash, or maybe I'll get out in public to work on a project. Perhaps I should spend the day coming up with an even more super-awesome plan for next year. What will you do? Whatever it is, make sure you celebrate how much you love yarn!

Happy Crocheting!
 (Or knitting, or spinning, or weaving...)

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Little Stress is Good for You

  A little bit of stress once in a while is a good way to exercise your strengths, stretch your limitations, and build your patience. A lot of stress all of the time is a great way to test your strength and stretch you to the limits of your patience. I usually turn to crochet in times of trouble, but lately I'm finding crochet to be the source of my anxiety.

  Hit the brakes! Screech! What? Wait, no. Crochet is not the source of the added tension; the things stopping me from crocheting are the problem. I just want to finish this scarf. And, you know, move on to another one. A while back, my kids set me back on a project. My dog set me back on another. More recently, Microsoft held back everything for a whole week. A cat has repeatedly stolen pieces of the project I'm working on now. To top it off, I'm having trouble focusing on my tasks the few times they go uninterrupted. I ask the Other Half for some help around the house/my office. He tells me "You've got this; it'll be okay"...

crochet, stress, Scarf of the Month

  NO. No, honey, I don't "have this". That's why I'm asking for your assistance. Like, go walk the dog when he interrupts me as I'm trying to count to 120 in multiples of four. Or maybe, move the TV into the bedroom if you're going to start snoring and leave it blaring for two hours while you get a nice nap. Try learning how to use the microwave/TV remote//toaster oven/phone/computer without my assistance. At least, help me out with everyone else who doesn't respect that my house is also my work space.

  Does that sound selfish? Maybe so. But I feel that my opinions can be justified. Is it so much to ask someone to warm up their own leftovers, just once in a while? I've cooked everything from scratch for the past TEN YEARS! You don't find taco seasoning, gravy mix, refrigerator biscuits, or canned anything in my house. It all came from scratch for the past TEN YEARS. Get a pizza already and give me a break! I haven't gone out to dinner in... Omg, I don't know when the last time I went out to dinner was. I know it was at least a year before I bought my car, so... Over four years? And does horrible service, cold food and burnt coffee at a midnight diner even count as "going out to dinner"?

  Do I still sound selfish? What does everybody else do with their 15 minute break at work? I vacuum my floor. Or scrub the toilets. Or do dishes. My lunch break is often spent paying bills or answering emails, instead of eating lunch. And then I get back to work. Work is spent trying to figure out how to space multiples of five evenly over 238 stitches to make a border with a scallop/picot edge that a customer wants added to Granny's afghan by the end of the week. And then in the middle of counting, a tornado bursts in the door, scattering concrete dust on my freshly vacuumed floor and hollering about how the sixth truck on a 250-yard job showed up with a two-inch slump when it was supposed to be seven, so they had to send ten yards back... And all I do is I calmly say "That sucks, honey, I'm sorry" and start over with my counting, so hopefully I can get some time to work on the delayed Scarf of the Month.

crochet, Scarf of the Month

 There was one time when I totally lost it... I told the Other Half's friend to shut up. Yup - lost it and hollered "SHUT UP!" at him. They came in the door while I was typing up an article and the Other Half walked off, leaving his friend sitting behind me. "What's up?" the friend asks. "Writing an article" I tell him, and continue typing. A moment of silence, then...


"Hold on..."

"Hey, Jenny!"

"Give me a minute to finish this paragraph."

"Hey, Jenny!"

"I'm working, hold on please..."

"Hey, Jenny!"

"Dude, are you high?"

"Hey, Jenny, it's important!"


"Did you hear that new song by..."

"Omg, SHUT UP!"

 And then there's more... I stayed awake for about 36 hours when we had an "emergency" house guest. The hurry-up-come-get-me-and-bring-the-cops kind of house guest. I dropped work to clean out the spare room and piled everything in my office space. Then the guest added some more stuff to my space. I made food. I did laundry. I answered questions. I offered advice. I tracked down links. And work waited.

crochet, yarn stash

  Through all the stress, I forgot to eat for an entire day. Rheumatoid arthritis started to flare up again. Still, I pour coffee and pack a lunch for someone else, then put on my rubber boots at 5 a.m. and walk the dog in my mosquito-infested swamp of a yard. I take the trash out in the rain. I feed the outside cats in the rain. I chase the neighbor's dogs out of the yard and go close the gate because somebody forgot to latch it - in the rain. I come in and dry off to get a cup of coffee of my own, then sit down to work on the project I'm making for charity. And the cat throws up at my feet.

  So you see, a little stress is good for you. It teaches you to be tougher. A lot of stress will have you wondering if you should just launch a canoe and float on down the newly made river that used to be your neighborhood... Start a new life somewhere on dry land... A new land where yarn flows freely, crochet hooks are never lost, and everybody leaves you alone when you're counting...

crochet, flooding

Happy Crocheting!

On the bright side (pun intended), the rain is letting up and the sun has come out for a few days now. The water is receding, I found fish under my house, and we're back to complaining about how hot it is. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Crochet is the Way is Drowning

  I often ask people to "stop by Crochet is the Way". I hope you understand that I'm not asking you to come to my house. What I mean is "visit the blog". I would invite you for an actual visit, but the dog doesn't like anybody; plus, who in the world wants to come here, anyways? Though I do like sharing stories from around the office and showing you the beautiful landscaping. During a short break in the rain, I finally got out to inspect the five acres of the Crochet is the Way grounds. So, let's go on a virtual tour!

  The following is a guide for what you would need - supposing you actually came by for a visit. You might think to bring the obvious things to come hang out at my offices: Yarn, hooks, various crochet tools and patterns... But you'll need much more than that!

crochet, weather, flooding

Materials needed for the tour:

  • A poncho. Not the awesome crocheted kind; a rain poncho. 

  • Rubber boots. The taller, the better. Maybe some hip waders. Snake boots might be even better. And yes, those are Hello Kitty toe socks.

crochet, weather, flooding, boots

  • A stick. That's for snakes.

  • *Optional* A gun. For bigger snakes with teeth.

  • The dog. He'll tell you where the snakes are.

crochet, pets, dog, flooding

  • *Optional but recommended* Floaties, life vest, raft, canoe, or other flotation device. 

crochet, pets, cat, flooding

  No, Jump Steady, you can't use that for a boat. But nice try, anyways. Maybe we can reinforce it with some of that As-Seen-On-TV junk that makes a screen door in the bottom of a boat "waterproof". I'll crochet a liner for it so you can be comfy as we all float away in the flood.

Directions for entering the Crochet is the Way grounds:

  • Turn left into the driveway. Stop before you hit mud. DO NOT drive through this mud. It's deeper than it looks. Yes, that dry-looking sand seems like the place to aim for, but it's not. That's called Wash-out, which is washed-down leftover concrete. It turns to slush when it rains.

crochet, weather, flooding

  • Go left if you are a truck. Trucks can go left only if the driver actually knows that you drive nice and easy through mud, not stomp on the gas and dig yourself a hole.

crochet, weather, flooding

  • Go right if you are a car. Do not go fast. Do not stop. Do not stomp the gas if you start to spin. Just go easy and aim for the driest spot. If you stop moving, stop stomping on the gas pedal. You're not going anywhere but deeper from there.

crochet, weather, flooding

  • *Alternate option* You could always just walk up, but you may wish to review the "Materials needed" section...

crochet, weather, flooding

Instructions for your stay (only for those who choose to drive up):

  • Don't stay to long. I'm not trying to be rude or anti-social. You actually can't stay too long, or your vehicle may start to sink. Here's where my car was parked:

crochet, weather, flooding

Tips for as you leave:

  • Live somewhere near a drought? Take a bucket home with you!

crochet, weather, flood

  • Remember the "Directions for entering". It's pretty much the same as you leave.

crochet, weather, flooding

  You may find the tour around the Crochet is the Way grounds interesting, but I doubt you'll enjoy it. If you get stuck here, we can always ask the mosquitoes to lift up your vehicle in trade for blood. If we run out of crochet material, maybe we could spin up some of the three-foot tall grass that can't be mowed in all this water. If you need exercise, just walk outside. The muck sucking at your feet is great for toning your calves, and you'll get some cardio in when you go for a run from a water moccasin (if you didn't bring a reliable pistol). And hey... I've heard that mud baths are good for you.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finishing a Difficult Project

  On International Crochet Day (Sept. 12th), I vowed to finish July's Scarf of the Month... And I didn't. Ugh! So let me complain a little bit (just a little?), then we'll get on to my solution.

  The biggest problem with finishing this scarf has been a cat. Plain and simple. A dumb cat. And before you think I'm being mean by calling Jump Steady "dumb", let's cover how he goes to sleep while sitting up, then falls over. Before you think I'm a horrible pet owner for insulting my cat's intelligence, you should know that he walks straight into walls. Please understand that I base the description of "dumb" on behavior such as turning the opposite direction every time I call him. And before you think he might deserve some kinder words, you should try to crochet something with this cat around. He is... *Sigh*... Difficult.

scarf, crochet, WIP

  Cats often get into yarn - that's no secret. But this cat usually stays out of the stash. That's good. What's bad is: He likes WIP's (works in progress) more. Especially July's WIP that consists of a bunch of chain stitch rings. Jump knows he's not allowed on the table, but somehow, every time I walk away, the pieces mysteriously end up on the floor... And under the fridge, under the stove, under the couch, under my chair... You get the point. This scarf will be so awesome because it takes very little yarn to make, plus there's a big time-saving method involved. But I'm making more rings because the cat stole a few that I can't find, so it's costing me extra yarn. I'm also taking more time than I should, because of a DUMB cat.

crochet, cats

  I came up with a short-term solution that didn't really work in the end. The rings fit perfectly like bangle bracelets, so I started keeping track of my finished pieces by wearing them:

crochet, scarf, WIP

  That wasn't a great idea. I'm not going outside to walk the dog while wearing these, and they don't need to go everywhere with me. That only leaves them on the table for the cat to get to again.

  Solution: Pick up the WIP, of course! But, come on! How many of you are gonna pick up your whole project and store it away, just so you can answer the phone or go pee, or something mundane that shouldn't really require the removal of the entire WIP? We all know putting it away will solve the issue, but I don't think about it when I'm only running to the closet to get a roll of paper towels to clean up a mess... That the cat made. Probably on purpose, so I'd go get paper towels, and he can swipe a few rings into that hairball he left me. Eww. The trash can have those.

  I thought - in that silly cat owner way - I thought that picking them up in any way would stop him from wanting them. I tried to make use of a small flower vase that somehow remains on my table, despite a lack of flowers:

crochet, scarf, WIP

  It seemed like a great idea, until: Crash! No broken glass, at least. Just a crash, and a cat running away. 'Cause he didn't do it, right? This idea is getting scrapped before my vase gets shattered. I should put it in a box already, and stop this fight. But that means I have to dig through the box every time I need a piece or a tool in it, plus I'll have the box sitting in the way.

  The "less-work" solution: Don't put it in a box, put a box over it! Oh, what a genius I am! All I have to do is place this cardboard box upside-down over my WIP when I walk away, and no more...

crochet, scarf, WIP

What was that thumping noise?

What's that scratching sound?

Jump Steady!

crochet, cats, WIP

  He says he didn't do it. Maybe he was set up. Maybe I'm wrong. I still think he did it, don't you?

crochet, cats, WIP

  Okay, so I guess I forgot the part about cats liking boxes, too. Game over. I give up. I'm moving this WIP into the bedroom, where he's not allowed at all. It's sad to ban him, I know, but he doesn't behave. Besides WIP theft, another favorite game of his is 'slap the human in the face while sleeping'. When that game gets boring, 'bite the human's nose' becomes more fun. And then there's the ultimately entertaining game of  'drop every sock you can find into the toilet'. This cat is a problem that I'm always running away from, and constantly cleaning up after. If I have to move my WIP into his banned area to finish it, then I guess that's what I'll have to do.

  Will this solution solve problem number two? Nothing - NOTHING can destroy your joy over a great project like somebody else's negative opinion of it. Enter into the situation: The Other Half. He comes in handy once in a while with good ideas and a helping hand with tangles, but he has no filter. Seeing the pile of sloppy-looking rings on the table, I could understand his doubt about it becoming a scarf. Once assembly started, I caught him looking at it. Looking at it with a strange expression on his face.

"What's wrong?" I ask him.

"How is it gonna be a scarf?"

(Explanation explained.)

"But what about the middle?" he asks.

"The middle comes together once I continue with the border. The whole thing will be woven together, and the border will help thicken it up."

"But what about the middle?"

*Sigh* "I just explained that."

"Yeah, but... I don't know... It's just... I guess... It looks weird." he says.

Can you hear the frogging? Rip it, rip it, rip it...

  I really hate it when he does this to me. I see it in my head. I know what it will look like. It will be awesomeness. But now I'm hating my design, and I've ripped it all out. I spent more time deciding how I want to join the pieces together, to make it better than "weird". And the whole thing is holding back August's Scarf of the Month pattern, which is already finished. What do I do?

  How about: Start over.  Not with the design, just go back to the assembly. Forget what he said. He just can't see it. Make a tutorial. Make a video! Show everybody else this scarf's awesomeness, and let his opinion slide. To make myself feel better, I'll let you guys in on a secret about the pattern: If you think all those rings are a bunch of ends to weave in, you're wrong! Since I hate weaving in ends, I designed this scarf so that you can tie a big ugly knot in the tails of the rings. Yay for big ugly knots! That might be part of what's throwing his vision of the project off, because at this point there's still a bunch of big ugly knots showing. Forget what he said. Just stick to the plan.

crochet, scarf, WIP

  Do you have people in your life that destroy your confidence without meaning to? Or do you have an insane cat that ruins everything? How do you get your crocheting done around them? Due to the flood water (and it's still raining!), throwing the cat out isn't an option. Throwing the Other Half out could be (lol). What would you do?

crochet, weather, rain

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Happy International Crochet Day!

  What will you do to celebrate International Crochet Day? As always, I'm going to crochet for charity (#crochetforcharity)! However, it seems like that's all I do anymore, so a little of the excitement has been taken from it this year. At first that made me sad, and I didn't know what to write about for our "holiday". But geez, get over it, right? That's just a depressing way of thinking about it.

Celebrating International Crochet Day

  So let's start over: Today I'm going to crochet for charity, yay! And it's all in celebration of International Crochet Day! (There, is that better?) I've been stuck on July's Scarf of the Month, and today is the day to finally get it done. Promise. It's really a simple design, but one you need to pay lots of attention to on assembly. And my assembly work keeps getting interrupted, so I keep messing it up. Today is the day of no interruptions (ha!), staying focused (double ha!), and completion (even if it kills me).

Crocheting the July Scarf of the Month

  Looking at a little peek of it, you're probably wondering "How in the world is that going to be a scarf?", but you'll see it soon enough. It will be awesomeness, because I will finish it on International Crochet Day.

Cat, crochet

  Well, I'm going to try really hard to get it finished today. Jump Steady seems to think the pieces of July's Scarf of the Month are his new toys. He's been misbehaving exceptionally well, and I'm at my wit's end with him. There's no going outside for him, because it won't stop raining and we are sooooooo flooded! This cat is nuts and the whole thing is dampening my spirits about this wonderful day.

  Anyways, on to you! If you don't want to crochet for charity to celebrate, what can you do? Let's start with: Crochet! International Crochet Day is the perfect day to just crochet. Do it at home. Do it in the car (while someone else is driving, please). Do it in public. Just crochet something!

  Teach someone to crochet. Crochet a gift for someone special. Crochet something special for yourself! Whatever you do, try to make today an extra-special day of crochet.

  I'm going to keep this short and leave the rest up to you! I'll still be here, trying to track down the rest of the pieces for that scarf. The Scarf of the Month program is getting caught up again, and I won't let this set me back anymore! The cat can have the darn pieces he stole, and I'll crochet new ones. Once I get it done, maybe I'll spend a little extra time looking for a charity that will take my creations!

crochet for charity

Happy Crocheting!

P.S. I live in a small town where nothing ever happens! Does anybody have a local yarn shop or a crocheting group that does something awesome to celebrate International Crochet Day? Tell us about it! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Diagonal Textured Face Scrubby

  Washable face scrubbies are a great way to go green! So stop throwing those cotton pads and balls in the trash every time you remove your makeup and throw these in the wash instead. The Back Diagonal Shell stitch makes an amazing reversible texture with smooth, massaging bumps on one side, and a rougher nubby side that's great for some deep cleaning.

 With a diameter of 3" (7.5 cm), these reusable scrubbies are slightly larger than the average disposable facial pads. How many of you use those things and lose your grip? I'm always dropping mine on the floor. What a waste! The texture of these pads helps you get a grip and stop the garbage.

Add these reusable scrubbies to a gift basket with my other free crochet patterns!

Skill level:

Worsted (4) weight cotton yarn
-I'm using Peaches & Creme 4-ply cotton in Pastel Delight, which is unfortunately a discontinued colorway. (Sorry!)
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 MM
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Stitch markers (optional)

Not important

A close up for gauge purposes

This pattern uses the Back Diagonal Stitch in the round, and the Back Diagonal Shell Stitch while increasing in the round. Check stitch definitions to make sure you are making your stitches in the correct places.

Follow pattern closely for beginning and ends of rounds. Stitch placement is extremely important. Use stitch markers, if needed.

See the end of the pattern for links to a photo tutorial and a video tutorial!

Stitches and abbreviations:
Magic Circle (You can also watch me make a magic circle in the first video for How to Crochet a Magic Angel.
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Double crochet (dc)
Triple crochet (tr)

Back Diagonal Stitch (BD st) [For in the Magic Circle] - Make a triple crochet (in the circle). Working behind the triple crochet stitch: Make 3 double crochet. (See here for a tutorial showing you the original Back Diagonal Stitch)

Back Diagonal Shell Stitch (BD shell) [Increasing] - Skip one stitch, make a triple crochet in the next. Working behind the triple crochet: Make 3 double crochet in the skipped stitch.

A free crochet pattern


Begin with a Magic Circle. Closing ch of magic circle counts as part of beg ch.

Round 1:
Ch 2 (counts as beg dc / part of last BD shell). Make 2 BD shell sts in circle. Make 1 tr in circle ahead of the beg ch-2. Make 2 dc in circle before beg ch-2. Join with a sl st to beg ch-2. (12 sts total, 3 BD shell sts)

Round 2:*
Ch 3 (counts as beg dc). Make a tr in the stitch immediately after the beg ch-3. Working in the same st as beg ch-3: Make 2 dc after the beg ch-3. Make 5 BD shell sts around. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3. (24 sts total, 6 BD shell sts)

Round 3:
(Ch 1, sl st in the next st) 23 times. Ch 1, bind off. Join round by weaving tail through beg sl st.

Weave in ends.

Go green with reusabe face scrubbies!

  *As for the way the pattern was worked and written: Why not chain 4 for a beginning triple crochet, then make the double crochet stitches of the shell behind it?

  Because I didn't like it, that's why. (Lol.) You totally can begin the round like that! But... Then you'll be starting the round in a different place, which changes the texture. It also shows the increases more. And to top it all off, that one flimsy-looking chain for a diagonal stitch sticks out like a sore thumb. So, just make it my way, okay? Use stitch markers if you need them! No complaining? Okay. If you feel like complaining, don't. Just check out the picture tutorial or the video to see how easy it really is!

Click the pic for a Guidecentral tutorial!

Click the pic for the free pattern to make the Scallop Seashell set pictured in this gift basket!

  And, last but certainly not least: GET THE VIDEO! Being only the second of my tutorial videos, it's not perfect. But give it a try and see what you think! Here's Part One:

Check out my YouTube channel for more! Subscribe to get the latest patterns before they go on the blog!

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist

Do you ever fall in love with a yarn, only to find out it's not in your budget? Have you ever looked for the perfect yarn for a project, but everything you find is just a little off? What about those tools that you really want, but you know you could still live without them? These are the things that make it on my Wednesday Wishlist...

Click the pics to follow the links!

Omega Sinfonia:

DK mercerized cotton
Image from anniescatalog.com

  Dk weight mercerized cotton is on my shopping list... Well, just DK weight cotton was on it first, but when I came across this yarn, I decided it should be mercerized, too. I'm looking for material to make a warm-weather lacy top, and I think Sinfonia will be perfect. Also, they happen to have an assortment of colors, including the black I'm trying to find. (Why is it so hard to find black DK weight cotton yarn?) And when I'm done with the project in mind, I'll have to go back for some of those variegated colors. (Check out the blues!)

Bernat Softee Chunky:

Image from yarnspirations.com

  I've been searching hard for the perfect bulky yarn, but I'm limited to a certain few colors. (Black is also one of the colors I'm looking for here!) Softee Chunky has become my final decision! I've changed my game plan for this project in mind, so I don't need a super-huge roving yarn anymore. This yarn comes in a big variety of colors, which includes both of the ones I'm looking for. The only reason this yarn is on my Wishlist and not in my stash is because I need ten or twelve skeins! I stand to make my money back from this project, but budget prevents me from placing the order. As soon as I resolve that problem, you'll be seeing a review (and maybe a pattern)!

 As always, please remember that the Wednesday Wishlist series was created to help raise awareness for the Scarf of the Month Program. Even though the yarn and tools I share on the Wishlist are often for personal projects, your donations will never go towards a personal purchase. Contributions to the Scarf of the Month program are only used to help with materials and shipping of the scarves. Can't donate? That's fine! Help spread the word if you can. Need to de-stash? The Scarf of the Month Program accepts yarn donations, too!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Nightmare of an Afghan

  I know I've mentioned my "Nightmare Afghan" here on the blog before, but for new readers, let me recap: This stems from my dislike of weaving in ends. Why I designed this project, I'll never know. It's a four-panel, three-strand blanket with double-strand seams. Number of ends to weave in: Oh, I forget by now... It was over thirty.
Too many!

  After finishing the panels and joining them together, I thought of the project as "done". Then I opened my eyes and realized it wouldn't be "done" until those ends were woven in. I threaded the needle and spent night after night weaving. And then the nightmares began...

  Every dream was similar in one way: My afghan's unwoven ends would become tentacles. The space in the center where a motif would eventually go became a slobbering, toothy mouth. The tentacles held me down; prevented me from screaming for help. The end would differ: It would either smother me or eat me alive. Sometimes, both. Either way, night after night, it wasn't good.

  Unfinished, the project got stuffed in a cabinet. The dreams stopped. My W.I.P. (work in progress) became a U.F.O (unfinished object). While doing a little Spring Cleaning, I came across the abandoned afghan. I thought to myself "How silly! Why are some dreams stopping me from finishing this awesome blanket?"...

  And work began again. One night later, so did the nightmares. I tried. I really tried. But the nightmares just got to me. It made me nervous to work on it. My hands would get sweaty. My mouth got dry. I would even start to shake a little and found reasons to walk away from it. The afghan made it back into the cabinet again.

  I tried some more a few other times, but the result was always the same. That was, until the past week of computer trouble. (Trouble? How about a disaster?) Without my PC to do my usual work on, I found myself with extra time and work piling up. As I thought of ways to get around the backup, I was staring at my pile of W.I.P.'s and a severely disorganized yarn stash.

  Okay, forget about the work... A few W.I.P.'s became F.O.'s (finished objects). The stash got exceptionally (exceptionally!) organized. And when I moved on to that cabinet, out came the Nightmare Afghan.

  I spread it out on the bed to admire it. I made up my mind to finish it. I started weaving again. But I made one small mistake that I couldn't really control: The day I picked up the needle to finish the blanket was a day that the Other Half got off work early.

He came into the room. He said "This is nice!", and ran a hand over the work in progress.

I said "Yeah, I'm trying to get it finished already", as he climbed under my project. (You know, under the W.I.P., that's in progress?)

He said "Hey, this is really nice!" and got comfy.

Knowing he has a habit of falling asleep anywhere and everywhere, I asked him to please not start snoring (oh, he snores so horribly bad, lol!) and stop the work on my blanket, so I could finally finish it...

  Well, he didn't stop me from working on it, at least! How many of you have ever finished a W.I.P. while it's in use? LOL. But I did it! It's finished! I scrapped the idea of the motif in the center and wove the hole shut with the tails. But before I did that, I couldn't resist getting the camera and snapping the first picture of my (almost) completed project in-use. He woke up at the sound of the shutter clicking.

He asked "What's that for?"...

"The blog!" I replied.

He said "It better not be!"...

  Yeah... It's my blanket, my camera, and my blog, so... That's what you get when you fall asleep under a W.I.P.! Just be glad I didn't zoom in on that drool running down your face!

...He'll get over it, right?

Happy Crocheting!

(P.S. He already got over it.)

[P.P.S. For those of you who will ask if I have the pattern: The dog ate it. 
I mean that. Don't ever, ever dog-sit and leave your work on the table. When people tell you their dog is well behaved, they're probably lying (lol), and that dog might just eat a notebook with all of your for-sale patterns. Who knew a dog could destroy over $1,000 in the time it takes to go pee? But the story of the dog that ate my (home)work and ruined my bed is one for another day...]