Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mittens Monday!

  (To those of you reading this today [Sunday], no, I didn't forget what day it is. The hubby and I are still trying to fix a leaking shower drain, so I'm grabbing the opportunity to publish this while he's at the hardware store again. If we get it fixed tonight, I'm taking the day off tomorrow - and a shower, lol. Pretend it's Monday for me, okay? On the bright side, I'm learning all about P-traps, plumber's putty and "pipe dope".) (And why is it called a P-trap, when it's shaped like an "S"?)

  I am the weird one. Something I always heard when growing up, but not something that ever bothered me. Because I wasn't "weird" as in picking your nose in the class photo weird (okay, wait, I used to be able to bend my thumb backwards); I was always into something that nobody else was interested in. To me, I wasn't "the weird one"... I just had different hobbies and talents than everybody else, and they were weird for not understanding - I mean, after all, I can't understand why anybody likes basketball, but I don't go around calling people weird for it, do I? I like challenges. And after all these years of hearing everybody say it's too hard to crochet mittens, I'm wondering why I would ever listen to anybody's opinion.

mittens, crochet, crochet for charity, donate

(Ya'll know I don't mean any offense by that, right? I'm highlighting the fact that I'm different here.)

  In the last post, I was showing you all my finished pieces intended for donation, and shared my mittens in progress. And... Oh, no...(lol) I think I've found my niche. Through all the projects I start and struggle to complete, or don't finish at all, I am now enthralled with making (and completing!) mittens. A simple scarf that should only take a day to complete may become a work in progress for a month, but mittens seems to fly off my hook effortlessly.

mittens, crochet, free pattern, charity

  And, I've become a little obsessed with browsing the Bridge and Beyond blog. I came across this post where Sandy says "you and I clap and dance in the streets when we receive mittens". In my previous post, I was saying a bit jokingly that I should rededicate the Scarf of the Month to making mittens... But I'm not kidding so much anymore. After writing that, I found some inspiration in another post on their blog. Yes, every little bit helps. But if I have this special passion and ability to hook up a ton of mittens in no time, why not use it to do even more?

  I am just one person... One person that finds it difficult to make 12 scarves in a year, like I planned. But I'm one person that finds it easy to work up one of the most needed items - mittens. If I can complete two pairs of mittens in one week, then let's see how many I can make in a year! (Not bragging, but I also completed another scarf, a hat, started a Valentine's Day project, too... Maybe I'm just running more efficiently than usual.)

  Disregard that thought in parenthesis... It's negative. No, I'm going to look at it this way: My ability to finish mittens is inspiring a feeling of accomplishment, which is fueling more productivity. So, against my better judgement, I'm going to start a new theme, and see if I can stick to it. "Mittens Monday" is going to be my challenge to keep making mittens, and hopefully not get bored with it.

mittens, crochet, yarn, charity

  am just one person. One person with a voice that's heard not only here in my own country, but all across the globe - about 10,000 times a month. (I know you hear me... Mwa, ha ha ha ha!.. Sorry. Told'ya I'm weird.) So, maybe you can't make two pairs of mittens in a week... I doubt I'll keep up with that speed, either. But even if you make one pair in a year... Or maybe a scarf, a hat, or even a cotton washcloth... Just one person making one item to help another, you're still one person helping another. It's something we could use more of in this world.

  The fun thing about the mittens I'm making right now is: I'm cleaning out my yarn stash. I found some random skeins of bulky with no labels, presumably for some forgotten project. I thought they were all the same yarn, until I started working with it. So, what was going to be one of my next free patterns is going to be one of many free patterns. Each pair I work up with a different yarn needs just a little bit of change, so I'm going to stick with the same basic form and see what happens. Instead of publishing one pattern with a bunch of variations, it seems easier to write a different one for each kind of yarn.

bulky, yarn, crochet, mittens

  The not-so-fun part for me: If only I had the foresight to not loose my yarn labels back when I was a beginner! I know some of it is from way back then, because one skein is the stuff I bought to knit a blanket with. I wasn't even crocheting yet! Some of it's newer, and I can backtrack what it is by going through my saved labels... Or maybe just searching the blog. But for the oldest skein, I get the "fun" job of tracking down a yarn that not only is label-less; I have no clue where I bought it, what brand it is, or if they even still make it. Hey, I said I like a challenge, right?

Country Loom, yarn, bulky, crochet

  The (maybe-not-so) fun part for you is: Maybe you'll get to experiment, too! Once I get the patterns posted, consider looking in your own stash for some bulky yarn. Try creating your own pair of mittens using the pattern. But... A warning to beginners, or anybody that has trouble working with textured yarn: Check out the last photo, and you'll see this yarn isn't the easiest to work with! Search your stash and see what you find! If your mittens turn out to big or small, think about sending them for a donation. After all, there's people of all shapes and sizes out there needing a helping hand. The gloves I was designing to fit myself came out too long, but now I know where I need to fix them. Someone else out there can enjoy the "mistake" that's only sized wrong for me, and I get to learn from my mistakes. It's not wasted time; it's just earned experience.

crochet, mittens, bulky, yarn

...And you'll need a bit of experience to work with this yarn! It's bumpy, fuzzy, and splits like crazy. I wouldn't recommend it for a newbie, or anybody with vision problems, or for those with anger issues. So if you have some trouble with finding the stitches in all that fluff, you might want to wait for an easier pattern - then you can see how simple making mittens can be! Can you work in the round? Can you increase and decrease? Can you crochet through two stitches at one time? If yes to all three, then you can make mittens, too! Now, how many of you are willing to lend a helping hand?

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Helping Hands

  Will I ramble today? Probably, but I'd like to explain that later for my faithful readers... (I'll put it at the end, so you can skip it if you don't care.) Let's get to the main problem: I'm a little stuck in a situation right now, so I'm trying to make the best of it. Honestly? I know I told you guys I'd be taking care of it over the holidays, but only some of my Scarves of the Month have been sent off for donations. The remainder that were supposed to go to Bridge and Beyond in Ohio... Well, they're still sitting here, just like me.

scarf, crochet, free pattern, charity, donation

  The Other Half is still driving my car. After the surprise-potential-buyer fiasco, he took the tag off his truck, and there it sits. I made him a deal that if he sold his truck and let me use the money to fix my truck, I'll give him my car. Pretty good deal for him, right? The car is worth more than the value of both our trucks put together, but I just don't want my car. I hate driving it so much, that I don't. I'm a confident driver in most vehicles, but for some reason I'm full of anxiety when driving the car. And I keep stomping the floor where the clutch should be and grabbing for a stick that doesn't exist, which adds to my anxiety. Even if he wasn't driving it to work every day, I'd probably still sit here, waiting for the weekend to come so he can drive me to town.

I hate that. (But at least I get to crochet while he's driving!)

  So, if it had power steering, I'd drive the hubby's truck and go mail my scarves. Since I can't turn the wheel, it's a little hard to drive, lol. (Ah, ha! Maybe that's why he's still driving the car - He hurt his hand, and I bet he just doesn't want to admit that it hurts to drive! Men...) We were supposed to go to the post office last weekend, but an emergency repair got in the way. Instead of sitting here grumbling about it, I'm doing something better with the extra time. I hopped on the Bridge and Beyond blog to get in contact with them, and I realized that I could provide an extra helping hand... Or two.

crochet, gloves, charity, donation

  *Side note to self: Remember to contact them again! I've been having computer/internet trouble like CRAZY! It's been a week since I used the contact form on their blog, and I haven't heard back. Something tells me they didn't get my message. From what I've seen in her posts, this lady is on top of stuff. I've sent countless emails and written comments over the past weeks that just disappear (everywhere, not just on their blog), while other stuff still works fine.

  Anyways, some of the things I want to donate are a little off of their specifications, so I need to know what they do and don't want. I've also read before that Sandy has pet allergies, so I'd like to make sure she's aware I do have pets, even though I'm going to launder everything one more time prior to sending. I always clean my donations with non-allergenic detergent, and my laundry "room" (shed) is outside, so stuff goes from the laundry to the car - No contact with pets after washing. But still, I had one lady that knew I have cats, and had a "reaction" to a gift... Nobody else (some with allergies) has ever had a problem. I still let people know, just in case.

  While I wait for the opportunity to get to the post office, I'm trying to finish an extra small item each day. Okay, so I'm really finishing an item every other day, because it took me a day to make each of those gloves... But the gloves started the mission! To tell the truth, I was designing them for me. But I messed up a little. Not accounting for the stretch of the stitch, the fingers of the gloves are way too long for my little hands. I'm really hoping that Sandy will accept them as a donation, because they're a perfect color, nice and warm, and would surely fit a man with longer hands.

crochet, hat,

  I made a hat after that, with the remainder of the yarn from a scarf. I missed a stitch in one round that didn't cause a problem until three rounds later, so I had to rip it out. Another one-day project sat overnight and became a two-day affair. I'm still thinking of ripping it back to make it a little smaller and longer... Just like the gloves, I didn't consider how stretchy it would be.

  After finishing the hat, I started some mittens. I've never crocheted mittens before, so I think they could be better. I've never worn mittens, either, so I really have no clue. The Other Half hails from a snowy place, and he says they're fine. Which, of course, makes me think that they probably couldn't be more wrong. (You should see the monstrosity of a ski mask I made him while following his requests!) Still, they fit over a thumb, and stay on a hand, so I guess they work as mittens, right?

crochet, mittens, charity, donation

  I'm still working a little at a time on the pile of WIP's I cleaned out of the chair. Mostly, I stuffed them in a plastic bin. At least they're off the chair! No, seriously... At least I'm getting these smaller items for donation finished, and they're not just becoming more UFO's. And the bigger, more labor-intensive projects, well... They'll get done, a little at a time. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, so I'm finding it difficult to finish large projects.

  Being able to add some extra items to my donation seems to be more important right now. Not only am I more motivated about the smaller projects, I'm also cleaning out more of that yarn stash. After reading on their blog that gloves and mittens are severely needed, I have an idea to re-dedicate the Scarf of the Month program to making gloves this year. I can finish a pair of gloves faster than a scarf, it takes less yarn, and if they're needed more, then I shall provide. I just need to get it right this time. I'm off to crochet more!

...But will I make it to the post office? We might not be able to drive out by this weekend! (I have a friend that lives close by, and happens to work practically-right-next-to the post office. If I can't get there on Saturday, then hopefully I can get him to help!)

flooding, cold weather, crochet

  *Hey, what about that explanation for those that care?! (Lol) Please pardon my disorganized writing/thoughts right now! I'm still running on coffee and three hours of sleep a day or less, and it's taking a toll on my concentration - I've noticed, so I'm sure you do, too. Crack addicts probably sleep more than I do, and it's possible that potheads could have more organized thoughts. It's not insomnia, it's insufficient time. If only there was a drug that added about 4 hours to a day - I think I'd take it.

  And then there's the weather... After the last post where I shared our morning of frost and an afternoon in the 80's, it has rained.

flooding, cold weather, crochet

And rained.

flooding, cold weather, pets, dog, crochet

 And... Rained.

plarn, flooding, cold weather, crochet

  Trying to work while exhausted in this gloom; the constant sound of the rain on the metal roof further dulling the senses... And missing my music since my stereo's acting up (I think we got zapped by lightning)... It's hard not to go into a daze, stare out the window, and wish for sunshine. Or a boat. Or ice skates, since there's a chance that it will freeze again this weekend, and the water hasn't gone down... I'll need an extra scarf!

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thanks to Coffee and Crochet

  I live in Florida, right? The land of sunshine and palm trees? The place that northerners come to stay warm in the winter? The Sunshine State? Well, we got our sunshine today, but it sure took it's time warming us up! That's why I was super-thankful for crochet and coffee this morning.

coffee, crochet, scarf, pattern

  Just to be clear: I do live in that part of Florida that has cows, not coastline. But, at least I have one palm tree! I grew up even farther south than this, and only saw frost maybe three or four times before my eighteenth birthday. This is cold-to-me. So, anyways... This morning I had to wake up before 4 a.m. to send the hubby off for an early workday. On early mornings the dog and cats don't care that it's not time to eat yet... I better get in gear and get them fed, which means taking the dog out... In the dark, and this:

frost, cold weather, crochet

  Walking around with my flashlight, the whole yard was sparkling. Even though I hate the cold, it was quite beautiful. Is that what makes people actually want to live in that frozen white stuff you call snow? Maybe I should try to go see it sometime. But only if I can take lots of hot coffee and warm crochet accessories with me!

frost, cold weather, crochet

  At least, walking around in the dark, I can wear my crochet goodies with no fear of ridicule. I hate wearing scarves, because every time I do, somebody feels the need to inform me that "it's not snowing, you know"... Yeah but I'm cold, so shut up. I wrapped up in my favorite scarf this morning, and it worked wonderfully to keep the chill off while I walked the dog, and again later when I went out to snap some pictures of the yard.

crochet, scarf, broomstick lace, free crochet pattern

  It's amazing how much happier you can be when you're warm. Usually, I would be walking around sniffling and grumbling about my numb fingers. Just by adding a crocheted hat and scarf to my Florida-snowsuit*, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the frosted yard instead of being completely miserable.

*A Florida "snowsuit" is my million layers that everyone makes fun of, because I don't own any clothes that are really suitable for this weather. My heaviest jacket leaves me cold at 60°. An outfit for seriously cold days before crochet was:

Long-sleeve shirt
Short-sleeve shirt
Toe socks
Regular socks
Old toe socks with-the-toes-cut-off, pulled up as leg-warmers

  I've been told I look like a homeless person. And I don't think that's funny, but I guess you can laugh if you want to. I'm cold, and I'm doing whatever I can to stay warm. Since learning crochet, I add a scarf and a hat, leaving one of the shirts and maybe the hoodie behind. Sometimes I still wear the hoodie, like this morning when it was freezing. And I really could crochet myself some leg warmers, but I kinda like recycling my worn-out toe socks.

frost, cold weather, crochet

  Are you starting to wonder why I'm rambling about what I wear when it's cold? Alright, I'll get to the point: This morning as I was enjoying my favorite scarf, it got me thinking... As soon as the animals are fed and the dog's done outside, I get to go in and be warm. And have COFFEE! I used to work in a steel building with a concrete floor and no heat. I couldn't stand it on cold days. Now, I get to go back in to my heated house, sit down with a cup of coffee, and bury myself in the warmth of my work.

  There's plenty of people that still have to work in that cold, while barely making a living. And there's others that don't have a place of warmth or shelter. So instead of being miserable today, I decided to get to work on some more charity donations. I'll be sharing more about that later... Today is just for coffee and crochet!

frost, cold weather, crochet

Happy Crocheting!

P.S. Welcome to Florida... Frost this morning, and 81° before the sun went down. Ditch the scarf. Still keep the coffee :)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Project, not a Resolution

  Sorry. This isn't a "best-of-2015 post"... There wasn't much "best" about the past year. I've been reviewing the things I blogged about last year and it got me thinking. This is me writing for therapy, but you're welcome to visit my life for a bit. Today I'm going to ramble on while reminiscing because I have something that I'm kicking around in my head, and I'm still working out what the right solution will be. I'm not making or sharing New Year's resolutions, because life always throws something in the way of meeting my goals. But, I do have two plans that I'm working to achieve at some point in my life: Get more done, and stop complaining. I had previously made a goal to stop worrying about everything being perfect, and just blog more.

goals, inspiration, achieve, stop complaining

  And what you guys got was... A bit of a disaster, in my opinion. On the advice of a friend, I was supposed to start sharing more about my personal life to help me with my personal "issues", and hopefully help others with the same. I hate sharing my personal life. (Probably in part because there's always something going wrong, so if I'm talking about myself, it seems like I'm always complaining.) The more I wrote about myself, the easier I found it was to spew out my details... But I don't know... In review, it doesn't feel like any of it actually helped.

  Maybe it just seems disastrous to me, because my whole life feels like a disaster sometimes. At the beginning of the year, I was excited about my Scarf of the Month program and adding my work to the World's Biggest Stocking Project. Joining the Stocking project threw off my scarf-making, so that I'm still catching up at the beginning of a new year. The Stocking project also brought me some stress, after it put me in the path of one of the worst people in the world.

crochet, World's Biggest Stocking, blankets

  However, I don't regret my work for the Stocking. Even though Bad Person put a damper on my mood, my work also put me in contact with a ton of wonderful people. I connected with other crocheters and bloggers, talked to some amazing veterans, and watched beginners gain skills with my posts. It was awesome. The only thing I regret about my work for the Stocking was not being able to be there for the reveal of the finished project. That would have made it super-awesome.

  My kids got a few mentions in posts last year, but I was complaining in some of those, too. If you're a perfect parent with perfect kids, then you wouldn't understand. But if you have a life anything like mine, then hopefully you can sympathize when I'm pulling my hair out, asking "Why? Why do they do these things?" I honestly think that at ten and twelve years old (at the time), you should know better than to cut your socks, or wait until the last minute to do your science project, or interrupt every ten minutes while mom is working, or many of the other crazy things that happen in the background but don't get blogged about. I love my kids, but even they earned complaints last year.

nature, sky, clouds

  The blog took some extra-sad turns with three deaths: First, there was my cat Nelly, who was my closest companion. It was unexpected and hit me hard. Still reeling from the pain, I got word of the loss of Wink from A Creative Being. Wink wasn't a personal friend, but I followed her blog and she was a big inspiration to me. (I'm still working on that mandala!) I think I took the news harder than I should have, but how can you ever judge that? I felt how I felt, and it still saddens me. Just when things started looking brighter, the call came that an old friend had committed suicide... And it sent me into a state of shock once again. My patterns and progress suffered through each loss, and the blog took on a darker atmosphere.

cat, Cornelius Peanutbutterus, Nelly

  Riding on the back of Dean-o's death, I was getting married. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, but the whole situation became so stressful that I almost didn't go through with it. "Friends" that I thought were friends... Well, they aren't anymore. I learned where I can't count on the Other Half, but better to find out before than after, right? I changed my hair and hated it, but got it fixed. And the biggest thing of all: They got me in a dress. And if you liked how I looked in it, then bookmark that page. Don't ever expect to see that again, okay?

  The stress, the distractions, the obliteration of my practically-non-existent bank account because of computer problems... It all put the brakes on my last year's resolution to move forward, expand my business, and be more successful. What accelerated was my rate of complaining about how things were falling apart around me. The advice to open up about myself may have been good for my mental state, but I know there's many of you that were thinking "Omg, shut up already and share a free crochet pattern", right? Believe me, I thought that too. I keep straying farther and farther from my main goals, and it's irritating me to no end. The more irritated I get, I find it harder to reach my goals.

  The fact of the matter is, life sucks sometimes. If I'm going to blog about why I didn't finish Super-Secret Project X, then you're gonna hear about kids/pets/disasters. You're never going to hear me say I didn't finish a project "just because" (wait, there might be one of those later). When I'm not distracted by a life problem, I'm crocheting. And when I'm not being interrupted by life, I actually complete my work.

  The problem is, how do you explain your problems without complaining about them? I guess it's hard not to. I mean, I could sit here and talk about trouble with losing my internet connection (bad router), or my leaking shower (bad drain pipe), a dog that doesn't listen (bad dog), allergies that won't stop, a broken washer, people that waste my time, and WIP's that keep piling up. Talking about it won't fix any of it.

  *So, here's where I'll complain/explain about one thing, then get on with the rest of the subject... Because the situation interrupted and added to this post. I can't even write about not letting things distract me/not complaining anymore without getting interrupted and complaining about it! But, you know... If this happened to you, wouldn't you just want to ask somebody "Why do these things always happen to me"?

  I'm writing this post: The Other Half calls to ask me if I remember some guys that stopped and offered to buy my truck... Sure, I remember them, and how they were told it's not for sale. Months later, they've contacted him again out of the blue. Can they buy his truck, instead? And they'll show up with cash when they come to look at it!? Sure! His truck isn't really for sale, but we've been interested in getting rid of it for a while. It seemed like a great opportunity.

  He's been driving my car so he can have heat in the morning, so I went out in the cold (yes, it's Florida, but a high of 60° is cold to me), I gave up on work and gave the truck a good cleaning (because remember, it's not up for sale, this is a surprise). He spent a lot of energy getting his tools and toolbox out of it, and they showed up just before dark. Now, keep in mind, the truck needs about $400 worth of work, but it's drive-able, in good running condition, new tires, brakes, and a few other parts. It's valued is $1,500. We could get at least $1,000 for it as-is, right? So, after I put off a half-day's work and I'm half frozen, the buyers show up. They start the truck for about a minute, don't even ask to drive it, and shut it off. They say they'll take it... But they don't have the cash on them, can they come back tomorrow? Oh, yeah... And they want to give him $400 for it.

  Ack! More wasted time! So... There's another post I wanted to start when I finished this one: I was on the last row of finishing a hat pattern that I'll be selling soon. It's a two-skein combo project, and I didn't plan my yarn usage well. Halfway through the second-to-last row of the hat, I ran out of yarn. And I wanted to blog about that. I needed to be finished with this post so I could dig out the second skein and start taking pictures, but I stopped what I was doing that day to go clean the truck up. I tossed the hat on the evil pile of WIP's, and I lost the hook down inside the chair. Now I'm thinking "Stop complaining? I might as well stop blogging!"

WIP, work in progress, crochet

  Here's some better goals for me: Become more organized. (Ha ha ha, yeah right! Maybe.) Become more... Assertive? Become more... Less distracted. I can't tell you how many times a day I sit down, saying "Okay, I have to get back to work now", and I have to do something else before my butt hits the chair. Or ten seconds afterwards. I'm too nice. On the outside, I just smiled and told those guys "no sale". On the inside, I wanted to take every bit of sand I scooped out of that truck (the Other Half works with concrete. It's a lot of sand...), then I wanted to pummel those guys into the ground and feed it to 'em. Especially when one of them called me "sweetheart". My vision turned as red as their "sweet" hearts that I was about to rip out...

  Okay, so I need to find a safe medium between outside "nice me" that's smiling and inside "real me" that's thinking about bloody murder, but I have to stop being so nice. It irritated me because I knew those guys' game as soon as they shut the truck off. For those of you new readers that don't know about my past, I worked as a mechanic before I picked up yarn. Don't B.S. me about cars, and don't call me sweetheart. The Other Half's truck might not be in the best condition on the outside, but it contains a limited-edition (awesome!) engine that's not made anymore. That's what they want - not the whole truck. I could go outside and have that motor pulled out in a day, and I can sell it for just as much as the truck is worth... Then part the rest out for at least another $1,000. No way you're getting it for $400, sweetheart.

  The interruption gave me a realization mid-post: Crocheting has made me too soft. Maybe some of it's an improvement to my previous state, but I kinda miss the old me that told everybody to (pardon me) F-off so I could get my work done. The shop I used to work in allowed customers to come to the work area to inspect damaged parts, and they always made their way into my way. I would calmly answer any questions, then ask if they could please move... And stop touching that. Many times, they didn't. A more forceful "excuse me, I need to get back to work", and they'd still have their head in the transmission I was rebuilding. I'd often get a response involving the word "sweetheart". A quick zip of the impact gun as they aren't paying attention used to get the trick done... They'd walk off embarrassed that the air tool made them jump in front of the girl... But that doesn't work in crochet life. As much as I've tried, I can't figure out a good way to scare people away from my crafting. (Well, maybe the softer equivalent is when "Mom can I..." gets interrupted by "FOURTY-FIVE, FOURTY-SIX, FOURTY-SEVEN!") How do I get people (and other distractions) to stop interrupting my work?

  I don't think I can, and that's why I won't even think of making a New Year's resolution. I might complain a bit, but my motto in the end is always "Life Happens". And you can replace "Life" with another four-letter word if you like, because I often do. - It. Just. Happens. And you have to keep rolling with it, or you'll get buried by "it". So that leads me to my MAIN GOAL: Just clean out that corner full of WIP's already! It looks like... "It"!

  Maybe I'm being too metaphorical, but I've come to look at my chair full of works in progress, unfinished objects, and abandoned projects as a representation of my year of disruptions. Or, maybe I'm spot on with that one... I mean, each WIP equals a disruption! No metaphor there, right? There's that Mandala for Wink, which just means too much to me. I have to be in the right place to work on it. No disruptions allowed. That's my go-hide-in-the-bedroom-and-meditate project. Then there's July's Scarf of the Month, which was interrupted by a cat, video troubles, and a house guest. There's the fuzzy blanket project that sometimes sits there just because I don't want to have to clean up more fuzz. Okay, so that's the one that's on me... Literally.

crochet, patterns, vintage, formal gloves, WIP

  And there's the formal gloves I started for a contest, and never finished because The Troll stole the fingers. I finally found them, and restarted work on them, only to get interrupted time and time again. I stuffed it back in it's bag, and just don't have the spirit to pick it back up right now. Also unfinished is the shawlette I was working on for my wedding... But I actually did finish that one... And then hated the way I finished it and ripped it halfway out again, without blogging about my fit of rage. The pile of tangled thread I was left with would have made a great post for me to complain about how... Oh, yeah... Stop that.

crochet, patterns, shawlette, thread crochet, WIP

  There's a cardigan pattern I'll be selling, but that one's on hold, too. I was designing two cardigans, actually; for some young ladies whose family was asking for help. I dropped everything I was working on to start this project! The whole process was going quickly and successfully, until I realized that they had successfully pulled the wool over our eyes. This "family in need" got some help from a charitable source, then went about partying with their new unearned money. With their new free house and their free fancy car, they're now doing better than I am - all without lifting a finger. When I saw the pictures of all the partying, I decided I wasn't interested in helping them out anymore, and I put off the project... To finish other projects. Okay, so that one... That one, I will complain about. I mean, I dropped everything I was doing because they were crying about how their kids didn't have clothes, and winter is coming... And then they get cash money from a church, and go buy alcohol with it. That one, I will complain about.

crochet, patterns, cardigan, WIP

  But, getting back on track, if that's possible through this rambling: As I sit and confess about my pile of WIP's, I have to say at least it is diminishing every week. I have the Scarves of the Month finished for October and November (patterns coming soon!), but December's is still in progress after another redesign. I may abandon July's completely, and consider it a failure. Once I get in the right mindset, the mandala should be finished with one more session. And in between all the bigger projects, I've been finishing up some smaller random side projects. There are free patterns coming! And someday, there will be a chair again.

  And then, there will be an office! I need to downsize my projects and materials first, but changes are coming once I do. My current "office" is just part of my living room, next to a TV, the front door, and halfway between the kitchen and a bathroom. It's prime "get interrupted" space. My computer desk is a rusty file cabinet, so I have to either sit sideways or curl my legs up to fit in front of it. With only two bedrooms, I don't have an option to make an actual office. But what I do have is a weird corner in my living room where the kitchen cabinets start. And it's right next to a window, unlike the dark space I'm in now.

file cabinet, rusty, desk

*An update on that: The night before I published this, I went on a cleaning/rearranging rampage. Not because I wanted to, but because the Ethernet cable that came with my new router was too short, so I had to shuffle my whole living room around to hook it back up. Anyways... The chair is cleaned out! And now some of it is piled on my couch... Only part of the file cabinet is my desk, but now I'm all the way in the darkest corner. At least I have a nice comfy chair to sit in!

  I'm claiming that other corner, and I mean it! The Other Half was supposed to build a new desk for me two years ago, and I'm still at this horribly cold, rusty file cabinet. I'm not waiting anymore. One day soon, he's going to come home to some painting. And another day, he's going to come home to some hammering/drilling/sawing. And when I'm finally finished with my semi-built-in desk/workstation, I'm installing curtain rods around it, so I can at least hang some kind of a partition. There's just one problem... The phone jack over on that side is broken, and I don't know how to fix those. How will I get the internet over there?

  Easy. I'm gonna go get on YouTube, and look up "how to install a phone jack". I bet some kind soul has put up a tutorial for it! I'll fix that myself, and build my desk the way I want it, and paint it something other than BROWN. My whole house is either brown, or beige, or tan; or worse, yellowish any-of-those... Walls, floors, furniture... It's ALL (yellowish) BROWN and it's starting to drive me a little nuts. He can have this dark corner for his TV, and the only person I can blame for me not having an office is ME. The whole project will be great motivation to blog... But not here on the crochet blog... Over on that poor-little-forgotten second blog of mine! It's about crafting, don't ya know?

home decor, brown, gross

  Ha! I just got interrupted again, by another power outage. While it was out, I tried to check out that phone jack, and know what I found? Eww, I just realized, even the phone jacks are brownish-yellow. And dirty, too. I hate my house.

broken phone jack, home repairs

  And I'm here every day, trying to be creative. No wonder I can't get out of this funk I'm in! I need that desk; need those white walls; need to get this pile of evidence of things I don't finish out of my sight! (And by that, I mean finish them.) That's not me complaining, either. That's me saying I get what I need and I do what has to be done. I need to back off from this "softness" that crochet has instilled in me. I'm not waiting around anymore for the promised desk while I play with yarn. I know what I want, and it's not that hard to build. I have the knowledge; I have the tools. I can create it. Now all I need is the muscles and money! (I say that now... Wait for the post on the other blog titled something like "Why Cats Should Go Outside when you Paint".)

Happy Crocheting!
And thanks for putting up with the rambling while I work things out!

Monday, January 18, 2016

September Scarf of the Month - Chocolate Pocket Scarf

  The Chocolate Pocket Scarf uses basic stitches worked into front and back loops to create simple texture. This is a great pattern for beginners to practice  the double crochet stitch and working into the front and back loops of stitches! The simple pattern repeat makes this a great project to take with when you're on the go. Directions and photo tips are given for the crab stitch border shown, or beginners can follow the instructions for working an easier basic single crochet border.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy

  Make this scarf with the pockets as written, work up an extra long scarf without pockets, or save some yarn and bind off early - This pattern leaves you many choices! The finished length of the version I made with pockets is 78" (195 cm) long. The width as written is 6" (15 cm). You can easily add more stitches for a wider scarf, but this pattern is plenty warm and cozy as-is!

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, beginner, easy, double crochet

Skill level:
crochet, skill level, easy

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I used Red Heart Super Saver in Coffee... *In an effort to clean out my stash, I'm using what's left of a jumbo skein, and I still have a ton left over. (See the picture before the border tutorial to see how much is left!) One regular size skein will be fine for this project. 
Crochet hook size K-9.00MM  or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional, but recommended)

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
13 double crochet
6 rows

free pattern, crochet, scarf, gauge

Chain-3 at beginning of rows always counts as one double crochet.

Use stitch markers to mark pattern repeat. If you choose to not use stitch markers, something like a saftey pin may be desired for creating the pockets.

Tips and pictures included for help with creating the pockets and working the border!


free pattern, scarf, stitch markers

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Foundation Double crochet (FDC) - optional
Double crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc) - for beginner's border
Reverse single crochet/crab stitch (rev sc) - for advanced border

Back loop (b/L)
Front loop (f/L)

Begin/beginning (beg)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)
Repeat (rep)

free pattern, crochet, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy, beginner


Row 1:
Chain 4, make 17 FDC. (Or, you can ch 20, and make 1 dc in each chain beginning in the 4th ch from the hook.) (18 dc)

Row 2:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 FDC.

Row 3:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in b/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 4:
Repeat Row 3.

Row 5:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in the f/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 6: 
Repeat Row 5.

Row 7:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 8:
Repeat Row 7.

Row 9... (122)
Repeat Rows 3 through 8 to the desired length. Do not bind off; continue to work border and create pockets.

Example repeats pattern 19 times.

free pattern, crochet, scarf, easy, double crochet

If creating pockets, you may want to count your rows and fold them over now, pinning in place with a locking stitch marker of safety pin.

If not creating pockets but you wish to add a border, you can follow these directions without folding the ends over. 

(Advanced border)
To create first pocket - Fold the last 10 rows of the pattern over the next 10 rows. Slip stitch to the 20th side post.
Ch 1 (does not count as stitch). *Make 2 rev sc in each side post, working through both thicknesses to corner of pocket. Make an additional st in the corner sp. Rev sc in the space between each post across. Make 2 more rev sc in corner sp.* 2 rev sc in each post sp up length of scarf, stopping to fold scarf over for pocket at the 20th space from end.  Repeat from * to *, then work 2 rev sc in each sp to beginning ch-1. Join with a sl st to beg rev sc. (See pictures for tips!)

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*I removed the stitch marker from the joining space of the pocket, but here you can see the other marker still in the corner space. Holding the sides together while creating the pockets will save you the headache of missing a space!

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Once you join the spaces to create the pocket, you will chain one before working the reverse single crochet border, working into the same space. The chain-1 does not count as a stitch, unlike in the beginner's border.   

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial, reverse single crochet

*You may still want to mark the chain-1! Once you work the first reverse single crochet, it will twist around. And working into the beginning stitch to join can be difficult! Mark the chain-1 before the beginning stitch so the marker won't be in the way when you join.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Work an extra stitch in the corner space before working across.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*After working across, work an extra stitch in the corner space.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*An extra tip for beginners working the basic single crochet border: You will be working in reverse order of these directions. The second pocket for the advanced border will be the first pocket for you.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, reverse single crochet join, tutorial

*Here's where you can cheat at joining the reverse single crochet. Remember, we're going to skip that difficult-to-find beginning chain, and join in the first rev sc made.

crochet, reverse single crochet join, cheat, tip, tutorial, free pattern, scarf

*Remove the hook from the stitch, and flip the pattern over to the reverse side. Place the working loop back on the hook, and insert the hook in the beginning reverse single crochet as for a basic single crochet. Slip stitch to join, and you're done!

...Well, almost. You still have to bind off and weave in those ends!   

(Beginner's border)
Ch 1 (counts as fist sc). *Make 2 sc in each post space up to the 20th space from the end. To create pocket: Fold over end, work 2 sc through both thicknesses to corner. Make additional sc in corner sp. Make 1 sc in sp between each post across. Make additional sc in corner sp.* Repeat from * to *. Make 2 sc in each remaining space before beginning ch-1. Make 1 sc in same sp as beg ch-1, join with a sl st to ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

**The directions for the border made sense while I was creating the scarf, but after writing it out, I saw room for confusion. Just to be clear: Each pocket will not be 20 rows long - Just 10 rows for the front side of the pocket, and the ten rows that create the back side of the pocket will remain on the body side of the scarf . 

***One last tip!! I find this yarn to be too scratchy for scarves! So, why am I using it for scarves? Because I've found the miracle cure! It's a well-known tip that you can soften scratchy acrylics by using some hair conditioner, but I may have found the best one out there! After running out of the usual cheap stuff, I grabbed my own conditioner to soften some yarn... And the result is: Amazing! It's still cheap to buy, too! And unlike the other cheap stuff I've been using, the yarn stays soft, even after washing it in the laundry without it. Or, you can just keep washing it with this conditioner, so it will be forever scented with its wonderful coconut-y tropical scent... Either way, it will be awesomely soft!
(And no, they're not paying me to say that. It just works!)

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, easy, beginner, double crochet, simple texture

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crochet Hooks and Knitting

  I told everybody I'd get back to knitting some day, and it's finally happened! Well... I should say it's happening. Maybe - It's starting to happen? I seem to be accomplishing the craft of knitting, although it appears to need much improvement. Once upon a time, I could produce a finished knitted project that didn't look like a kindergartner's first attempt, but my tension and technique is pretty rusty.

crochet, knitting, crochet cast on

  Still, I'm excited to be knitting again! I have all these vintage needles and all this yarn, and the only thing I ever do is crochet. It's nice to sit down with a different craft for a change. I've got a lot of practicing to do before I'm back to making anything other than dishcloths, but you have to (re)start somewhere! I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was picking up these newer plastic needles. They don't glide so well with this Red Heart Super Saver, and I can tell it's throwing my tension off.

crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, tension, plastic needles

  So, the biggest thing that's been holding me back from knitting again was casting on. Not only did I forget how to do it by hand, I always hated trying to measure out the correct amount of yarn. I would either run out of yarn before I cast on all my stitches, or I would end up with an extra foot of a tail. Plus, I'll admit that my casting on never looked very nice... Some loops too big, others too tight, and once in a while there'd be a twisted one... Yeah, not casting on is the part I love about crochet.

  Ta-da! Thanks to Jenn over at Roving Crafters, now I can cast on with crochet! It's perfect for me! There's actually a whole series of tutorials in the post for how to knit with your crochet hooks, which I tried, but it's not for me. No offense to Jenn... The tutorials are awesome, and they helped me remember with way is "knit" and which is "purl". But, I tried to knit with one knitting needle and a crochet hook, then I tried with two crochet hooks. Jenn makes it look so easy! Maybe it's because I was once a knitter? Or just because I'm such an inexperienced knitter? The whole experience was very awkward for me. I found that I prefer to keep knitting with two needles, but I LOVE being able to cast on with a crochet hook!

crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, Roving Crafters

  So, if you're a crocheter that isn't a knitter... Yet... Then stop looking at my horrid attempt at becoming a knitter again, and go check out the tutorials! (And don't even try to say something nice about my knitting like "It doesn't look that bad", because I'm stretching it into a better shape for the photos, and cutting out the worst of it to try to keep a little of my dignity... Oops, there it went... Oh well. The best thing about that swatch is the crochet cast-on!) I'm going to have a go at fixing these stitches that I dropped, but I bet I'll be ripping the whole thing out soon. My purls are too tight and my edges are wonky, but at least I'm doing it again!

Oh, wait... Does this mean my pile of WIP's will be growing some more? Darn it, Jenn, I'm supposed to be downsizing! (LOL)

crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, dropped stitches

Happy Knitting!    
(Thanks to Roving Crafters!)