Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Scary Day of Crochet

  I've shared my progress (and problems) with August's Scarf of the Month over the last few posts. I really wanted to use the scrap left over from the Drops on the Window Scarf for this pattern, but didn't have enough in the end. While digging through the stash I disovered more than one half-ball of white (all the same kind of yarn), and decided that it would make a nice transition between the beginning variegated color and the next.

  I think I made the right decision. Since I didn't have enough blue to use, I decided that some leftover yellow would make the next best choice for the third color. I know I have about half a ball of pale yellow that will compliment the varigated color nicely. I don't have to worry about the whole project being a disaster because that perfect yellow is right here in my stash!

All I have to do is open...

Yeah... It's here somewhere...

I thought it was here somewhere...

Ugh. Stupid troll!

  So, my I-know-it-will-be-perfect yellow has been relocated by the troll. Really, I know I have it. I looked everywhere I have yarn. It will probably show up again in about two months in a place that I've already looked five times... Oh well. On to the next plan:

  I have more than one kind of yellow! I know, because I found them all while looking for the yellow I want. Since yarn was already everywhere, I set them aside to compare with the project. I thought this skein of Caron United in Aran would be the next best thing to the pale yellow:

  Yuck, I don't like it. It's not yellow enough. That's probably good anyway, because I need it for another World's Biggest Stocking blanket. On to the next yellow:

YUCK! I hate it! The Other Half says "Use it; it's close enough"...

Is it? Should I listen to him? Let's take a closer look:

  Double YUCK! Eeeew, no! Get it away! It's horrible! So... Nope, not using it. Back to the stash, you overly-yellowish Yellow!

  I went back to the idea of using up that blue. How, if there wasn't enough before? I was going to remeasure in a single crochet stitch to see if I could get one skinny row around. In the end, I had so much doubt in the back of my mind that I didn't bother. Knowing that I did have a brand-new skein of another yellow, I went to my big-box-of-Caron-United that never got put away properly.

There it is!

Um...Whoa... Hi there, buddy!

...And there I go, right back out of the room!

Omg, I was in there barefooted and everything! I went to get some shoes, my camera, and other supplies...

What's that? What am I freaking out about now?

Can you see it?

  Sorry, I don't have any FBI-quality photo analyzing software to clean up the image. But there it is; right there! That's where it was when I opened this box:

  Welcome to living in central Florida. There's no palm trees and beaches around here; it's half-desert, half-pine woods, part swamp, and lots of pasture grass. We have lots of interesting fauna that's common around the area, including deer, turkey, fox, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, and gopher tortoise. In the right places you'll find questionable critters like gator, possum, snapping turtles, and bear. We also have some not-so-nice things like coyote, rattlesnake, brown recluse spiders, and what you're about to see.

*If, by any chance, you are with the People for Ethical Treatment of Bugs, please understand that this guy must have had some sort of sickness or something. There he was, on the little dustpan that came attached to my flyswatter (genius idea, by the way)...

...I must have blacked out for a moment. When I came to, he had mysteriously died from unknown circumstances. Maybe it was a temporary increase of carbon monoxide in my home... Could have been some sort of horrible virus or something... Gee, I hope it's not contagious! What if it was radiation from an alien spaceship? Omg, what if I was abducted by aliens? Omg, what if this thing is an alien?

  So, that was the end of my crocheting for the day. The rest of my time was spent making sure that was the only scorpion in the box. You know, so they could be caught and "humanely released". I need to find a place for that yarn already, and get some work done around the yard and the house. There's already a twinge of fall in the air (even here!), and I know that when these creepy critters start moving in, it means the winter will be cold. Plus: Holy cow! There's a tropical storm headed this way!

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Elaborate Yarn Tools

  My latest W.I.P. almost gave me a heart attack when I came close to running out of yarn in the last post. I've got my eye on another scrap ball to start the next color, but this one will be even closer! Before I try to finish a round with this smaller scrap, I'll do a bit of measuring. Deep down I'm hopeful, but in reality, I'm pretty sure this (horribly wound) ball won't make it one round.

  The very first thing to do is unwind that (horribly wound) ball! No, it's not because the sloppiness is bugging me, it's so I can measure how much is there. And then rewind it into a prettier ball. (That happened, by the way, when my center-pull ball collapsed after using this yarn for a test. I then wound the unraveled yarn around the collapsed mess, creating an even-bigger mess. I have more like this. Sloppy. But I bet a couple of you have done it before, right?)

  Anyways... When measuring my yarn, I measure by the yard. If you're measuring precisely for a project, then you'll want to use something that measures... Well, precisely. Besides a tape measure or yard stick, yarn can be measured with a yardage counter - a little device that can range for about $10 for a simple one, to over $1,000 for a commercial grade model!

  If you're also a spinner, then chances are you might have a Niddy Noddy or an umbrella swift to measure your homespun goodies. I'm a poor spinner and don't have any of these toys. "Poor" can be taken two ways: I'm always broke, and I'm bad at spinning... Let's say you could call my attempts with a drop spindle "half-fast". Get it? Maybe some day I'll be better on a wheel. But I don't need to measure a whole skein for this project, I just need to measure some scraps! And especially, I need to figure out how much of that scrap will be used in my project. Enter my tools of the trade: My hands, my arms, and these:

  Yup, there's by big, expensive, elaborate yarn tools. A couple of clothespins. When I'm measuring just for me, no rulers or special measuring devices come out. I know that I can hold the yarn with my arms stretched wide to measure about a yard. If you want me to be (a little more) precise, then I know that all-the-way-wide is more than a yard, but shoulder width is less than a yard. So I need to meet somewhere in the middle to make my measurement.

  -On a side note: If you are working from a pattern that is already written, your gauge matches, and you do know the exact yardage you need, don't use this method. Please do not measure out almost-yards by hand and then complain that you didn't have enough yarn, even though you measured. Measuring by hand isn't exact. But it does work to gauge your material in a project like this. Let's continue...

 So, the way my method works is pretty simple. First, measure the yarn you have in stretches. One stretch = your "yard". You don't need any tools for this other than your memory - as in: Try not to get interrupted in the process of counting, try to keep your "yards" the same, and write the number down when you're done. When you know the number of "yards" you have, then it's time to start stitching. I start with a few stitches so I have a base, then measure out a few "yards". I mark each yard with my clothespins.

  And then I start stitching. For this project, I'm working in a classic granny pattern, using sets of three double crochet. Instead of counting each individual stitch, I just count the sets.

  To get an average (if not acurate) measurement, I'll work through a few of my "yards".

  I could use more clothespins to measure out more yarn at one time, but I only go a few at a time in case of mistakes. It became clear after working through more of my "yards" that I had measured the first yard incorrectly. 

  That happens sometimes when I catch the yarn on my finger or something and don't realize that I didn't make a full stretch. So I measured more, and worked a few more sets. 

  When the amount of sets worked matched the number of yards measured, I knew I could sit down and start doing math. Yeah, math! It's pretty simple math, depending on how you work it:

  I ended up with 28 "yards" of my yarn, and I know there's 4 yards in eight 3-dc sets. I divided 28 (amount of yarn/yards) by 4 (yardage per set). I take my number (7) and multiply it by the number of sets in my measurement. (I'm using '4 yards/per 8 sets' to work the math since 4 conveniently divides 28 evenly. You could simplify your math by just dividing by yards per each set.) My result is 56. That means I can get 56 sets out of this yarn, and it takes almost 50 sets just to make it up one side of the project... 

  Do you hear that darn frog again? "Rip it, rip it, rip it"... Oh well. I was prepared for it this time. I really didn't think I'd have enough yarn, but I misjudged the last scrap, so I wanted to double-check. All that was lost was a bit of time, and a (slightly) educational post was gained. I had to go climb into the stash to find something else, and I made it out alive. Now, on to the next color!


Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Holy Slip Stitch, I Almost Had a Froggin' Heart Attack!

  A project caused me quite a bit of anxiety today! I'm working on another Scarf of the Month pattern. This one is designed to use up my (or your) yarn scraps. Not those teeny, tiny scraps that only make the center of a motif, but those I-made-a-hat-now-what?-rest-of-the-skeins that take up room in my (and maybe your) yarn stash.

  And what's one of the most popular, classic ways to use up yarn scraps in crochet? Granny Squares! I'm not sure if you're supposed to capitalize the "G" or "S" according to grammar, but Granny Squares deserve capitals in my book even if you're not! This project isn't a "Square", though. It's a Rectangle. Plus, it isn't made in the typical Granny Square fashion... Anyway, meet my "Holy Slip Stitch, I Almost Had a Froggin' Heart Attack" moment:

  Oh no, I have the whole length of the scarf to go... I was sure I could get another round from what's left of this skein, but it's not looking good anymore! I can see the table through the strands of my center-pull ball. You know what I used to do in this situation when I was a beginner? I would freak out! "Omg, no, don't tell me I'm going to have to join yarn!" I would increase my tension in a hopeless effort to stretch the last bit of the yarn, making my stitches impossibly tight and pulling the whole project out of whack. And usually, I'd still run out of yarn.

  I'm glad I let go of that habit a long time ago! Though it was looking like I'd run out of yarn before the end of this round, I kept my tension nice and even. But don't think I wasn't still having that holy-slip-stitch froggin' heart attack inside! I figured I would have to rip out (frog) the half of a round that I had done. I kept working as my hopes diminished, and realized about halfway through that I hadn't run out of yarn. As my hopes increased again, I managed to squeeze the last yards out of an old skein and finish the round:

  The reason I was so anxious is because I don't have any more of this color and I can't find it in the store, either! I found it online, but then I'd have to wait for it to ship. And the dye lot probably won't match. And the point is to get rid of some of the stash, not buy more! (Wait... No. Cleaning out the stash IS so we can buy more!) Plus, who wants to wait when there's Granny Square projects to work on?

  I was left with just enough to maybe make the center of a classic Granny Square. Maybe. But I'm happy to kill this skein, because it's been in my stash forever! Seriously, it's the same skein I made my Boo-Boo Bag pattern with. That was one of my first patterns. And this yarn was sitting around for at least a year before I started the blog... Probably more. By the way, I've since discovered that the pattern for the Boo-Boo Bag also makes a nice sandwich pouch! (...That doesn't mean I use my ice bag for sandwiches, either. I made another one for that!)

  Since I'm getting sidetracked, I'll get back to crocheting now. This almost-heart-attack will be the cause of another post later, so you'll see more then. Stay tuned to see how I figure out if I have enough of another color to start the next round!

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Death of Yarn Tales Tuesday

  As I mentioned in my last post, my life is changing big time. I've always found that life is easier when you stick to a schedule. But lately I've found it impossible to make plans that I can stick to. And that's why this will be the last Yarn Tales Tuesday post here on Crochet is the Way.

  That's not a bad or a sad thing, it's another way to move forward! I've decided that instead of sticking to a silly schedule where I can only rant and rave on Tuesdays, ya'll are gonna get my ramblings any time I want to spew them out. (I'm not sure, but I believe that's called blogging.) I need different titles. My posts page is full of "Yarn Tales Tuesday", "Yarn Tales Tuesday", and one "Yarn 'Tlaes' Tuesday" that can only be distinguished by the orange, fine-print labels that will someday make me go blind. No more Yarn Tales Tuesday, okay? It's a good thing. I think this is one case where I'll be more productive by not sticking to a schedule.

  Yarn Tales Tuesday has been a great way for me to open up about my personal life, brag about my Guidecentral tutorials, and occasionally I actually write about yarn. But it has held me back from publishing when I miss my deadline, and my new readers (hi, ya'll!) are missing great posts that are lost under the title. From now on, there will simply be a great post for you to laugh, cry, learn, or argue about. In honor of the last Yarn Tales Tuesday, I'd like to invite you to browse through a history of past articles:

(Click the caption link for the post. If you click the pic, you'll just get a pic!)

Crafting for Special Occasions, and Christmas in July
-The very first Yarn Tales Tuesday!

(No pics)

Time to Unwind...
A great reminder to just stop sometimes!

Crochet Holidays, not Holiday Crochet
Crochet "Holidays" in September and October!

What can happen in your mind when you re-label your projects

Crochet for Our Furry Friends
Oh, you owe it to me to go read this one! My "babies" are grown up now, and I still miss Cornelius Peanutbutterus every day. Couldn't help but cry when I revisited this post.

Bi-Polar Craft-itis
Read this post to see if you or a loved one might be afflicted by this budget-harming condition :)

The Crochet is the Way Name
I open up about how the Crochet is the Way name came to be, and tell off some people who deserve it in the process

The "Saving the Yarn" series
An interesting mix of subjects while I attempt to save a kid-tangled skein of yarn in a four-part series

Finding Myself in a Pile of Yarn
The story of crocheting through PTSD

National Crochet Month and #crochetforcharity
This post contains one of my favorite rants - One where the person involved never did come forward in public like I asked, but chose to attack me in private on Facebook again. Well, maybe not attack this time... More like, they just wanted to tell me that they were offended... Boo hoo.

  There's others to read, but these are probably the best. There's a mix of blog updates, Guidecentral updates, pets, kids, and rants. I hope you enjoy what you read as we lay Yarn Tales Tuesday to rest. Just know that it's not the end of my writings, it's just the beginning of more descriptive titles - and probably more posts! Sometimes, you have to know when to let go of something in order to make room for more. Another way to move forward!

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A New Horizon

  My life is changing... Rapidly, to say the least. More like turning upside down... But I always try to make the best of things, and whether the changes that happen are for better or worse, you have to keep moving forward. Towards a new horizon...

That's my backyard, by the way. It's okay, you can be jealous.

  Lately I've felt a sense of urgency towards moving forward, especially with Crochet is the Way. Thanks to all of my wonderful readers and friends, the blog has become something more than an unknown space in the vast sea of the internet. Although I've had a few roadblocks lately when it comes to getting things done on time, it's still time to move forward. I want to say thank you to everyone who has commented here or on social media to let me know that you share the same problems, you know how I feel, or that I've helped you in some way. It has inspired me to do what I've been putting off for a long time: Move forward...

  So, if I'm ready to move forward, then why am I so nervous? My hands are sweaty and shaking, and every voice in the back of my head is screaming "NO! Why did you do that? This is the biggest mistake you'll ever make!"... But that's just anxiety, isn't it? I know that my readers are wonderful people that will tell me "good job", even if it's not perfect. Without further ado, before I can delete what I've done in a fit of nervous doubt, here's my very first series of crochet videos:

Part One of the series shows you how to work the first three rounds of the Magic Angel.

Part Two will walk you through the fourth round.

And Part Three cuts short, but covers the entire fifth round.

  I know it's not perfect, and I hate the way I had to edit the end of the last one... But I can't figure out why my camera shuts off in the middle of recording! At least I made it through the pattern before it stopped, but the last part for how to add the halo to the Magic Angel is lost forever. Without a beep, buzz, or click, my camera just... shuts... off... With plenty of battery and card space. And it's really hot - So, I think I have a problem here! Still, I managed my first series of videos (and uploaded them without breaking the internet), and I think they came out okay. I hope you like them, too.

  As for what's beyond this horizon, I don't know. What I do know is that I'll continue to attempt videos until I can upgrade/fix my equipment. And I'm not going to keep letting things stand in the way of the progress of Crochet is the Way. One way or another (for better or worse), there's going to be some big changes around here.

Happy Crocheting!

P.S. I really don't know what I'm doing; I'm brand-new to making videos! My crochet videos should be public, and the rest of my stuff should be private. But... Just in case the rest of my stuff is public, sorry if you don't like heavy/black/death/nu/thrash metal!

P.P.S. If you do like heavy metal, black metal, death metal, nu metal, thrash metal... Or just any METAL(!), drop me a comment some time! I'd love to start a metal stitch group :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Free Pattern: The Magic Angel

Magic Angel, crochet, pattern, free, angel, decoration, holiday, Christmas, ornament, religious, stand-up, worsted weight, yarn, blue

  The Magic Angel is a neat little design worked all in the round. The excess amount of stitches ruffle to create folds as you work it, creating an angel like magic! Inspiration for the pattern came from this butterfly on Roving Crafters (seriously, it's so cute, you gotta check it out!). The question was raised about how many other things could be made from the folded-ruffle-thingy concept. And an angel was born...

  *If you happened to read the previous post, we played a little guessing game! You can check it out to see all the ways this pattern can go wrong if you don't fold it right. Also if you read that post, you might notice that I mentioned working on some VIDEOS! Yup, that's right! It's my first-ever crochet videos (my first-ever videos, period), and they're for this pattern! Go to the next post for a three-part series of how to Crochet the Magic Angel!

Skill level:

Worsted (4) weight acrylic yarn (about 12 yards)
* I used an assortment of Red Heart Super Saver, Caron United, and Caron One Pound. Try any worsted weight (even cotton!) you like, using a hook one size larger than the manufacturer's recommended hook size.
Crochet hook size I/9 - 5.50MM, or see note above
Yarn needle

In 2" by 2" (5 cm by 5 cm)"
6 rows, 6 double crochet

Use stitch markers to mark the beginning of the first two rounds, if needed.

Pattern can be made in any size yarn or thread. Change hook sizes accordingly. Length of material used will vary.

See additional notes at the end of the pattern for why you might want to leave an extra-long tail before you begin.

Stitches and abbreviations:
(American terms)
Magic circle/ring
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Half-double crochet (hdc)
Double crochet (dc)

Begin/beginning (beg)
Space (sp)
Stitch/stitches (st/s)


Begin with a magic circle. The closing chain of the circle will count as part of the beg hdc.

Round 1:
Ch 1 (counts as first hdc). Make 5 hdc in circle. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (6 hdc)

Round 2:
Ch 2 (counts as hdc). Make 1 hdc in each of the remaining 5 hdc. Join with a sl st to beg ch-2. (6 hdc)

Round 3:
(Ch 4, sl st in same st, sl st in next st) 5 times. Ch 4, sl st in same st. (6 ch-4 spaces)

Round 4:
*Sl st in next ch-4 sp, ch 1. Make (1 sc, 3 hdc) in same sp. Ch 2, make (3 hdc, 1 sc, ch 1, sl st) in next ch-4 sp. (Sl st, ch 3, 4 dc, ch 3, sl st) in the following ch-4 sp.* Repeat from * to *.

Round 5:
*Sl st in the next sl st. (Ch 2, sl st) in each of the next 4 sts. Ch 2, (2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc) in ch-2 sp. (Ch 2, sl st) in each of the next 5 sts. Sl st in ch-3 sp, ch 3. Make 2 dc in same sp. (Ch 2, 3 dc in next dc) 3 times. Ch 3, (2 dc, ch 3, sl st) in ch-3 sp.* Repeat from * to *.

Bind off, weave in ends*.

* Use the tail to give your angel more character! Here's a few suggestions:

  • Weave in between the stitches of Round 2 and pull tight to give the neck definition. This will prevent you from using the piece as a topper, but it will stiffen the pattern if you want the piece to stand freely.

  • To create a halo: Weave loosely back and forth through the stitches of Round 1. Whip stitch over each woven strand around. Continue whip stitching around two or three more times. Secure tail and weave in the end.

  • The lazy way: Leave the tail to use for hanging!

  • Give your angel "hair". Working over the top and back of the head, weave the tail around (over the stitch, through to the back, and back up) each stitch, leaving a loop over each stitch. Secure tail and weave in.

  You could also embroider a face on your angel, or use beads or buttons for eyes. If you follow the blog, then you know my (lack of) sewing skills. Everything I tried made my angels look like evil aliens. Good luck with yours :)

  Even without embellishments, these angels can take on expressions just by rearranging them. I amused myself during a thunderstorm by taking a few extra photos (in artificial light, and that's why they're all so horrible!), and I found further amusement when I was able to sort through them. Each picture seemed like the angels were up to something different... What do you think?

This one makes me think that the angels are singing, lined up in a chorus.

I think they look sad here...

And here, they're like: "Let's party!" ...Seems like they're dancing!

  I don't know, maybe it's my imagination coming to the rescue on a horribly boring, stormy day. It really feels like every time I look at them, they're doing something different. Maybe there's more magic to them than just the way you fold them...

Happy Crocheting!

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