Monday, June 27, 2016


  Ah, yellow... Such a bright, happy color, isn't it? It makes you think of sunshine and flowers, lemonade and bumblebees... All those things that trigger memories of fun in the sun. Well, I'm here to tell you that I absolutely hate yellow right now. And blue, red, green, or any of the other colors that trigger horrible allergies for me.

yellow, crochet, bullion stitch

  I know, when you read that opening, you thought it would be a fun, happy post about summertime, right? Sorry. But I promise the griping will end soon. Right now, I have a not-fun summertime bug. And many years ago, I was diagnosed with an allergy to yellow food dyes. Later it was discovered that I seem to be allergic to just about any color of a lot of kinds of dyes. Do you know why it really sucks to be allergic to dyes? Because they're in food, soap, lotions, laundry detergent, dish soap, aaaaaannnnnnnd cold medicine.

  To combat most of these problems, I've found quite a few brands that carry dye-free, fragrance-free products. And I make my own laundry soap, stay away from anything that looks artificially colored (no candy for me!), and spend tons of time reading ingredients in stores.

  I don't know what it is about yellow, but I'm definitely the most allergic to that color. It doesn't matter if it's in food or soap, yellow #5, 10, lake, or any of the other kinds of yellow dyes that exist. I even get a reaction from working with certain yellow yarns, like the one I'm trying to use up in tutorials. There's no way I could ever make something for myself with this stuff.

crochet, bullion stitch

  That would be a preview of the bullion stitch tutorial you were going to see soon, which was going to have a video. I took the pictures I needed, then had to charge my battery. I set up my area to film, but had a coughing fit. Uh oh, not good. The Other Half has been sick, but I never worry much about catching things. One good thing about having rheumatoid arthritis is the kick-butt immune system you get with it. I almost-never get sick. Almost-never. Long story short, I went from fine to so-sick-I-can't-make-a-video in less than an hour.

  I'm not giving up on the video, so I'm holding off on the tutorial. The poor Other Half has been to the store and the pharmacy three times, only to bring back something I can't take - They seem to put yellow, or my second-worst allergy, red, in every single cold medication. My usual honey and lemon natural remedy isn't enough for this crud. He found a dye-free cough syrup, but I need something that will help the horrible aches, pains, and headache that came along with the low-grade fever. But since he was actually told by a pharmacist that the dyes wouldn't hurt me because they were listed under inactive ingredients - OMG, where did you get your degree? - I'm done with finding a medication that will help. It's time to just tough it out.

  I tried to work out a motif while relaxing in my chair, since I'm kind of stuck on that square until I can make the video... Crochet, rip, crochet, nap, stare at the TV while nothing makes sense, crochet, rip again, work out a stitch count on paper, crochet, and nap some more. I was really happy with the design, but my stitch count is off somewhere. But, it's okay. Even though there will be more ripping back, I have it worked out on paper and it's going to be awesome.

crochet, motif

  So, I guess I was able to make something good out of my misery. I still haven't got the finished Mom's Afghan to dad, because I packed it in a bag as soon as I heard that first cough from The Other Half. The bullion stitch tutorial is on hold, and I'm not even working on what's left to be done on the Love Knot shawl. With the fuzziness in my brain, I can't seem to focus on anything that is supposed to be getting done. But hey, a weird design seen in a fever dream led to the creation of another motif. There's always a bright side, after all.

Happy Crocheting!
(PS - If you didn't catch on, I'm admitting to starting another project, even though I had set that goal to finish all WIP's before starting another project. You can yell at me if you want, but I'm blaming it on the cold.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

That Feeling When...

  If you're on any kind of social media, then chances are you've seen a "that feeling when" meme. Over the past few days, I've had a lot of "that feeling when" yarn-y moments. I'm willing to bet that a few of you have been in my shoes, so I thought I'd complain about share what's going on.

crochet, yarn stash

That feeling when someone is willing to pay the price for a handmade item...
I was as content as this little elephant seems to be.

That feeling when you find out the yarn company is running a site-wide sale, so you can get the yarn for less...

That feeling when you find out the color you need is out of stock...

That feeling when you search other sites to find out they don't carry that color...
That would just be a photo of a one-finger salute, so let's not go with a picture there.

That feeling when you remember you should have some of that color/brand in your yarn stash...
That feeling when you open the containers...
Oh, no.
yarn stash

  There's more to it than just what you see there. And now, I'm over the feelings. It's time for a lot of sorting, untangling, and winding. I swear The Troll gets in there and messes it all up when I'm sleeping. I just did this a few months ago, and I've only been in that bin twice since organizing it! 

  On the other hand, the second bin is still nice and neat. But like that weird way a bowl of spaghetti seems to grow as you eat it... I can't make a dent in that container, despite using 15 - 20 skeins on Mom's Afghan.

  Although I never found the yarn I needed in my stash, I did start to get everything organized again. The Troll should have fun tonight. I have a new feeling that what I'm looking for is in one of my other boxes of WIP's. I'm not going there. 

  Believe it or not, that WIP bin is organized, by category: Works in progress that are actually in progress are in separate bags, stacked in order by "less work to finish" first. Unfinished objects that require ripping out are stuffed in by random order, and then there's a pillow form that's for a WIP, so it counts as organized.

  There is a lesson to be learned, but I'm not sure if I'll ever pass the test... Take the time to keep things in order, and organize as you go. I can blame it on The Troll, but I'm probably the real culprit. Keeping my yarn stash in these plastic totes is a great way to keep it safe from cats and dust, but you can see that an extra filing system is needed here. The bin with the yarn organized by color and kept separated with bags stays organized. But the random "throw it in a box" method isn't working for the rest of the stash.

How do you keep your yarn and WIP's organized? Or is your stash a mess like mine? 

If you're a Stash Slob like me, let's make a goal to do something about it. Yarn is our friend, right? Let's treat it better! I'm going to take just one hour a week and dedicate it to untangling, winding, or ripping out (which leads to more winding). Don't have an hour? How about ten minutes? C'mon! Being able to get to your yarn faster will lead to more

Happy Crocheting!  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crochet Pattern Roundup - Squares

  Please, please please read this before you skip to the patterns, because I want your help. This is my first of what will hopefully be a new kind of pattern roundup - A roundup that will continue to grow!

  Here's how it will go: Designers, you can benefit! My roundups will all be based on a motif, stitch, technique, or whatever I'm obsessed with at the time. (I know, I'm selfish, right?) Then, I'll share with you some free patterns that go along with the theme. And after that, it's your turn to hit the comment section and shamelessly drop a link to your own design that fits the category! You don't have to follow me on social media or subscribe to anything (but that would be cool if you did). You don't even have to leave a comment, just a link if you wish. But it would be nice if you don't do it anonymously, so I know you're adding your own pattern. After I check it out, I'll go back and add your pattern to the roundup!

  Well, designers? Does it sound like some free exposure for your free patterns? You don't have to be a big-time blogger or famous designer. As long as your pattern fits the category, I'll add it to the post. When I get a group of at least 5 or 10 new ones, I'll re-share the post on social media to keep views from dying out.

Let's get started with the first one!

  It seems like I'm always on some kind of trend. Lately, it's been all about joining crocheted squares. Mom's Afghan, the Grannies in a Love Triangle squares and shawl, a fabric scrap rug... And I have even more square projects in progress! I recently shared a tutorial for how to join squares with the Love Knot, and a diagram for how to join with one seam

roundup, crochet, squares, free crochet patterns

  Although I *love* how the Love Knot join looked along with my lacy squares, I started envisioning what this stitch would look like with different combinations of texture and stitches. I started scouring other crochet blogs for free patterns that I thought would go great with this join, and here's what I've come up with so far:

*These are in no particular order, I just add them as I find them. All patterns you see here come from sites with readily available permissions, or I've asked the designer. If you include a link to your pattern, you will be giving me permission to use your photo in this roundup. All patterns will be credited to their designers.
I loved this square so much when I saw it, I actually waited to post this roundup until Marjan had the pattern ready. There's a great tutorial, too! Imagine using up your yarn scraps making the flowers, then turning the squares into a delicate, summery afghan with a lacy joining stitch.
This adorable design was adapted from an applique created by awesome designer Maz Kwok. Wouldn't it be so cute to combine the airy Love Knot join with a flying heart square?
I love the combined textures of this square, and it's easy, too! Hop on over to check out the pattern and see all the tutorials Alexandra has available to help you get it done. Do you think this square would look good with a lacy join, or would it be too much texture? I can't wait to find out!

I didn't get permission from Marie of Underground Crafter to use a photo... But I couldn't leave this one out! The vintage Irish crochet look of this square would become even more delicate with the use of a lacy join. Personally, I think it would make a beautiful wedding gift!
Kara designed this peace sign square for a tween or teen, but it would be great for anyone that's a hippie at heart. And what goes right along with peace? Love! This square would be so groovy combined with the Love Knot join.
Oh my goodness, this square is just a beautiful bounty of bullions! I bet the lacy Love Knot join would go perfectly with the mesh around the center of this square. Rhelena designed this square for a CAL that I wasn't able to track down... Aw... But this pattern is available and it would make an heirloom of an afghan!
Sarah has included a tutorial that should help even the newest of beginners get this done! Designed for a Moogly CAL, this square looks awesome along with the other squares in its series... But once again, I'm envisioning a flowery square combined with my lacy join for a summer garden afghan.
I remembered this pattern just before publishing, so I don't didn't have permission for a photo yet... But you see it now! I had to include this vintage square recreation from Purfylle. Stella did an awesome job working out the pattern from photos, and included a tutorial, too!

-  -  -  -  -

  So, there's my picks for squares that would look great with my lacy Love Knot seam. But you can join them any way you want! If you don't see your pattern here, please don't be offended. I can't spend all day getting lost in the playground of free patterns on the web, because I'll never finish all the WIP's on my list! But remember, it's not too late to get added. Just drop a link to your FREE crochet pattern in the comments, and it will be included soon.    

  Not a designer? Help out bloggers if you love their patterns! Follow the link to your favorite square and be sure to let the designer know how much you love it! We love feedback, you know...

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Works in Progress

  Please, no more, lol! I made a goal to start completing more projects before picking up new ones, and I've been doing pretty good at it. Pretty good. I've finally finished sewing on all the flowers for Mom's Afghan, and all I need to do is wash it and get it to Dad. So now that my biggest project is out of the way, it gave me room to see the little projects I've been neglecting to finish.

crochet, WIP, work in progress

  Perhaps I shouldn't say it that way, because some of them see the light of day once in a while... And then there's that project that I started even though I shouldn't have, and I've been making pretty good progress on it. But there are others so neglected that I've forgotten them. Posting about them helps motivate me to get working again, so let's get a look at what I'm working (and not working) on:

crochet, plarn, rug
  The giant plarn rug I started with the kids' help... It's still growing, just like them. But without their help joining the plarn loops, progress has slowed. I ran out of bags for a while, but it didn't take long to stock them back up. I'm adding a few stripes of a lighter color to brighten it up, and it looks like I have enough material cut up to finish it. Is it big enough yet?

crochet, motif, snowflake
  Here's an awesome motif I started working on around the holidays... And I completely forgot about it until I found it under another project. I liked the design of the center of the Simple Snowflakes I created, and wanted to build on it to make a new interesting design. It's not an important project, because I was just playing around and didn't have anything planned for the square it would become. After finding it, I thought about scrapping the square idea and making it into a mandala.

crochet, bag, fabric scrap yarn
  This bag made of fabric scrap yarn is (almost) finished, but lacking the braided strap I still have to attach. It was supposed to be a free pattern. No excuses here, I just need to get it done. I lost the strap. I have to find it, or create a new one.

crochet, fabric scrap yarn, granny squares
  Another fabric scrap project! This is the one I wasn't supposed to start, because I had already made myself that promise... But you can hop over to my other blog and check out a post about a problem of mine, and you'll see why I was motivated to get moving!

crochet, doll, embroidery, ugly
  Lol, tell me honestly: Did that thing scare you a little? Meet The Troll's Ugly Girlfriend. (Well, her head, anyways...) She's something I've been keeping secret for a long time, because I wanted to share the pattern, but I quickly realized it's not an easy pattern to explain. This was started partly as a joke towards my embroidery skills, though the original idea (the body) was supposed to be a fairy. Knowing I wouldn't be able to create a decent-looking face with embroidery, I decided to embrace the ugliness of my stitching.

  That turned out to be the best idea ever! Instead of being discouraged by my poor skills, I had a ton of fun using my horrible embroidery to make her even more hideous. Lopsided eyes of "french knots" (wow, I'm bad at them) framed by puffy lids, a big bulbous nose using the same stitch, and a too-big, crooked smile of running stitches. I sewed the yarn tails over and over the same spot under the mouth to make a big, pointy chin. Adding some yarn bits to make sparse, ratty-looking hair completed my vision of what a troll's ugly girlfriend would look like. Now, all that's left is to attach the head to the body. That Troll has been acting up again, so maybe he needs a friend to play with.

  Since there's not much left to do on a few of these, I want to rush to finish them up. There's even more WIP's around here, and there's about to be one more... (Noooooo!) Even though I swore I would never take another special order, Big Bro sent me a picture of a cute elephant rug that somebody wanted, but he didn't know anything about the pattern. One search of "crocheted elephant rug" lead me to the pattern for the Josefina and Jeffery Elephant Rug (by Ira Rott) on Ravelry:

  I couldn't resist. In case that picture doesn't link back properly (I'm dealing with some errors), then you can click here to check out the pattern. And while you're distracted on Ravelry, I'll be placing the order for the yarn. As soon as it gets here, I'll be starting the project. *Sigh* There's that word again - start. I'm supposed to be finishing. But it's a cute pattern, I can always use the cash, and there's no "special" about this special order; they want it exactly how it is in the photo. All I have to do is follow someone else's pattern, and that should be a nice break from designing all the time. Plus, HOLY COW, I found someone willing to pay the price for a handmade without griping.

  So, I better get going and get to work on these WIP's! Even though that project is well within my skill level, it's pretty darn big. I have hopes of finishing it quickly because I won't be taking the usual time write down stitches while I work. But like I said, it's pretty darn big. We'll see how it goes!

Happy Crocheting! 

But wait... Hey, speaking of big projects... How did I write that whole post with only a tiny little mention of my biggest project? YAY! I FINALLY FINISHED MOM'S AFGHAN! It is a bittersweet finish, since Mom will never get to use it. But since this project has been part of my grieving process, it's a needed step in moving forward. I've decided to keep this exact pattern private, though I'll make some alterations to sell a different version. This way, Mom's Afghan will always be Mom's afghan, and nobody else will ever have it. But you can have a similar one someday. 

crochet, afghan, Mom's Afghan

Monday, June 20, 2016

Join Crochet Motifs with One Seam

  This is such a great method to make beautiful joins, save yarn, and have less tails to weave in! When I shared the tutorial for the "Join-As-You-Go" stitch using the Love Knot, I was only creating strips with my squares. Here's a diagram to show you how to keep going for a full square or rectangular project:

crochet, tutorial, one-seam join, seamless join, join as you go, how to join squares

(And by the way, you can use this with just about any stitch!)

  I also said in the previous tutorial that this wasn't the full Join-As-You-Go method, but forgot to remind you that the true technique involves joining while working the last round of the square. This is really just a "seamless join", but you'll find some calling it Join-As-You-Go. It's a confusing situation to me, because I think of it as "joining as you go", because you don't stop crocheting the seam. Plus, a seamless join makes me think of an invisible join, not a one-seam join. Forgive me if I've confused you, and please enjoy the diagram. Have fun only weaving in only two tails after joining all your squares, no matter what you call the method. And that's it!

*Gasp* That's it? Not a full page tutorial? No lengthy instructions?

You got it! That's all you need.

  But... Here's some verbal instructions, for my non-English speaking friends using translating software: Begin where you see the green circle. The grey arrows indicate where to work a regular stitch. The black arrows indicate where to work a stitch, then join to the stitch on the opposite side. End where you see the red circle.
(I've had a few complaints about putting text on photos, because translators don't work on pictures. I hope that helps!)

Happy Crocheting!

(P.S. Find the free pattern for that square here - There's a tutorial included!) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Join-As-You-Go with Love Knots

  The Love Knot is one of my favorite stitches, and I thoroughly enjoyed working out this joining method. I'm using my "Grannies in a Love Triangle" squares, but this stitch would be easy to use for a lacy join on any square. The large size of the Love Knot makes the joins amazingly fast. We all like that, now, don't we? But... you won't get to see a full Join-As-You-Go here (and I'll have more tails). *Get a diagram for the full seamless joining method here!

  I'm using the Join-As-You-Go method to create strips for my Grannies in a Love Triangle Shawl. Although you can use this technique to join all the squares in your project with one continuous seam, I'll be adding a border to the strips to work out some cool color work, and then joining them using the same stitch. You can find diagrams online to show you how to join a full J-A-Y-G project, so you can still use this stitch to follow the traditional method.

  This technique of creating strips would work for any square or rectangular project. If you want to use another square for your own design, then you'll have to work out the right size of your stitches yourself. But all you have to look for is puckering or rippling, and you'll know you need to adjust the height of your Love Knots. My squares also have convenient chain-spaces for joining, so you'll need to figure out your own stitch placement for a different square, too.

  For other designs, pay attention to the notes along the way. I made a corner that's a little too short, to add more design and some simple shaping to my pattern. If you're using this method for anything else, then you probably want to use one of the alternatives I've provided. This goes really quickly no matter what design you're using, so grab your motifs and get ready for a finish!

Need help?
Find a tutorial for the Love Knot here
And the tutorial/pattern for the Grannies in a Love Triangle square here

A typical Join-As-You-Go will continue after the end of the strip, joining a new row of squares after step 5. I'll be continuing at the end for a border all the way around the strip, so we won't be following the same pattern. (As I said above: You can still use these stitches to follow the typical J-A-Y-G pattern!)

Begin in a corner with a long single crochet (to make the beginning stitch, start with a slip stitch and pull up a Love Knot to count as the long single crochet). In each space across, make (one long single crochet, two Love Knots, and one long single crochet).

Work the stitches around three sides of the square (including corners to follow my pattern, or see the notes for a different corner option).
For the shawl pattern: End in the last corner space with just one long single crochet.
Other designs: You can make a full stitch set in the last space before joining a new square, and another full set in the first space of the new square. This will be preferred if you're using the stitch for a full J-A-Y-G, because you won't be working the border that fills in this space. Also see the note (*) a few steps ahead for another corner space option.

Make two Love Knots, then join the next square with just one long single crochet in the corner space (for the shawl). I know that leaves an odd space, but we'll be fixing that when we work around the other side. Okay?
Working up the joining side, you'll still be making almost the same stitch pattern in each space. After you make the long single crochet and the first Love Knot, slip stitch in the opposite (center) Love Knot.

You'll continue by making the second Love Knot, then the long single crochet in the same space as the first. Moving on to the next space, you make (one long single crochet, one Love Knot, slip stitch, Love Knot, and long single crochet).

*Hey! This method does create a spot at the join that is shorter than the rest of the stitches. It will be filled in with the second round for my Grannies in a Love Triangle Shawl. For other designs: Scroll to the end of the post to find an example of a different corner stitch I'm using in the border which would also be a great option to use while joining.

Now, that's all you need to know to get to the end of the strip. Keep following those directions until you've added all the squares in your strip, then work around the corners to the other side. I'll wait, because I know it won't be long until you're done...

Okay, ready? It's time to fix that odd space!

Make one long single crochet in the corner space, then make a Love Knot. Slip stitch in the Love Knot in the center of the join. Make another Love Knot, then a long single crochet in the corner space of the next square. Work (one long single crochet, two Love Knots, one long single crochet) in each space across, and repeat at the next join.

  Continue until you get back to your beginning long single crochet, make (one long single crochet, two Love Knots) and join with a slip stitch. To follow my pattern, we're going to work a second round. If you're working on your own design, then you can choose to bind off here. There's no need for a second round other than for my color work; the stitch pattern will be the same for joining.

  The stitches for the second round will be worked in the center Love Knots, so we have to work our way over to the first one. If you wanted to change colors again, then it would be simple to bind off and start right in a center knot. If you're following my pattern, then let me show you the easy way to (cheat!) get there:

After the joining slip stitch, there is only one long loop to work over until we reach out beginning spot. Simply pull up a long loop, then slip stitch into the center knot where we will begin. Now, you'll make (one long single crochet, two Love Knots, one long single crochet), just like before, in the center knot of each stitch group.

But what about that joining space? To fill in that "short" spot, don't work into the center knot here. Work (one long single crochet, two Love Knots, one long single crochet) in each space to the side of the slip stitch.

**And what about the corners? You have a few options here. You can't continue using the same stitch group in the corner, because it will begin to pull. To make a sharper corner, I worked another two Love Knots and one more long single crochet, making two stitch groups share a middle stitch. You could work the corners of the first round this way, too.

Not shown: You can also make sharper corners by working four Love Knots for your corner stitch. However, the extra Love Knots alone will create a huge open space that's bigger than the "diamonds" in the middle joins.

Here's one final example of how I continued building out with the new corner stitch, making one "shared" stitch on either side of the corner stitch (or space). That "short" corner that I made in the beginning join was made so that the strips of my shawl will taper down just a tiny bit, but it can also make your work pucker. Although the curling can easily be blocked out with this lacy stitch, I recommend that you use one of the other corner stitches for flat patterns. Whichever one will work best may depend on the design of your square.

  So, are you following along with this project, or using this joining stitch to create your own design? I'd love to see photos of your creations - Remember that you can stop by the Crochet is the Way Facebook page to share them!

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 7

  This looks to be the last of my lost files... As of right now I can't find any more. Who knows? Maybe I'll find some in a hidden folder, but this seems to have been the bulk of it. This one project is perfect for the end of the series, because it actually involves the infamous notebook-eating dog's owner. Long story short about this piece: Yes, I crocheted a fishing net; no, that's not the way they're usually made, but it's what I was asked to do. So I did it.

  The longer story is about the motivation behind the project. I consider this to be the most obnoxious thing I ever created - And it was made obnoxiously with a BIG purpose. It may not be so classy to go putting the whole explanation out in public, but whatever... The parties involved are no longer part of my life, and I feel the need to tell the whole story about my "happiest" creation from the past.

  I will warn you that some of this could be viewed as offensive, but I'm censoring the worst and hopefully you'll understand... Just, please know that I don't agree with the views of the character in this post and he disgusts me. Also, I would never make fun of anybody but him. I'm going to tell this story openly and honestly. Anything that's not "pc" here is just part of the purpose behind this project, and not meant to be offensive.

So, how did this "rainbow" fishing net come to be? Well, when somebody has been a bit of a jerk lately, you make him something he doesn't want!

crochet, fishing net, gag project, Lost Crochet Files

  Okay, there's much more behind that... Let's leave this person unnamed, other than being the notebook-eating dog's owner. And my ex-boss. Day after day, I used to put up with His Jerkiness. From comments about why women can't drive to why black people should go back to Africa (sorry I even wrote that, but does it help you get what a jerk he is?), I continued to put up with his bigotry for my paycheck. I don't know if it was some form of retaliation, stress relief, or an attempt to get him to see the wrong in his ways, but I developed a habit of making snarky comments towards his low intelligence... To no avail, because it all went over his head.

Great work environment, huh?

  And if we ever had any obviously gay customers come in, boy, he would carry on about it for the rest of the day. A gay guy patted him on the shoulder once, just saying "thanks", and he was worried that the guy was going to come back for him later. I was amused in one way, but mostly disappointed - I mean, to think that the guy is after you, only because he used a common social gesture, and happens to be gay... I realized that he wasn't just a bigot; he was extremely homophobic.

  They might not be my finest moments, but I made it a goal to try to put him in awkward situations. Like not telling him I was still on the phone with a customer as he called them the "N" word, and leaving for a long lunch just as they came to take their business elsewhere... And when he asked me if I could put my crochet skills to use repairing his fishing net, I saw a new opportunity. You see, he made a special request for the project: I couldn't make it in any of those "gay colors", because there was a lot of... Um, okay, I can't do it. I won't even put a censored version in here. I'll take over here, and translate that there's a high number of gay people in the area where he goes fishing. So, you know, the idiot is afraid that if his fishing net is colorful, it will attract the "wrong" sort of attention.

crochet, fishing net, gag project, Lost Crochet Files

  I would have made it in actual rainbow colors, but these were the only colors of nylon string the hardware store had. It served its purpose, because when I presented him with his "repaired" net - Ha ha ha, he had a fit, screaming about how everybody was going to think he was gay with a net like that. I told him "sorry, it was the only three rolls of string they had left in the store", and I didn't really care if he believed me or not, as long as it shut him up. He took it fishing, and OMG, what a big surprise (I say that sarcastically): He made it back without getting assaulted, attacked, or even spoken to by any gay people.  

  Unfortunately, it could have been a lesson, but he couldn't stop carrying on about how he got scared every time he saw a boatload of guys... That's funny, dude, because aren't you IN a boat with a bunch of guys? The net was conveniently destroyed on the next fishing trip. I'm not sure if it was done on purpose, or if they're just dumb, since the first net had suffered the same fate of a knife... Some people just never learn.

  On the bright side, at least I received a lesson from that. Just like learning, some people never change, either. I now knew that my antics would never get him to see the light, and began cutting all ties with him. It's too bad I didn't make that decision before he went on that fishing trip, because then I never would have watched his dog, and this whole series would have never existed... It would have been a bunch of great patterns. So, since it happened this way, I hope you've enjoyed the reading. It's been great looking back on past projects. Now I have to get to work recreating some of them.

Happy Crocheting!

If you missed the beginning of this series, and you're wondering what in the world it's all about, then here you go! Check out these links to the entire "Lost Crochet Files" series:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Hit and a Miss

  I've been hiding my little side-project from all of you, and I think it's time to stop being so selfish. Although work continues on Mom's Afghan, I can only sew on one flower before it starts to drive me nuts, so progress is slow. On my breaks in between, I've been trying to finish up some WIP's. One is the giant plarn mat for The Kid's room - which I've already shared - but it's nothing special to look at, so I haven't been keeping up with progress about it.

  And the other WIP is Super-Secret Project X. This project is actually a pre-design to another design I'll be selling. I got half way through making the squares for my design, and realized I liked it better with a slight tweak to the pattern. I already had half the squares done, and the original pattern came out pretty nice, so I figured I'd keep working on it and let you all have it as a free pattern. You may have already seen the pattern for the squares I'm using... Now, here's a little sneak peek at what I'm making with them:

crochet pattern, Grannies in a Love Triangle, granny square, crochet, WIP

  The free crochet pattern for this square was a disappointment, to be honest. I was thinking "Wow, I made this awesome, interesting, original pattern, and everybody will love it". I thought my pattern was the freakin' bomb. So, I published it. It bombed, alright... Sure, I got some positive feedback and some shares, but comparing numbers to my other patterns, this one was just sad.

  But that's okay... I've seen this happen before, and I should know better than to set my expectations so high. The patterns for my other squares are never as popular as a full project. I love to publish the patterns for squares and motifs alone, and suggest you use your imagination to create your own design. However, numbers show that the majority of the public wants to see that square used in a project. Well then, how's this?

crochet, pattern, WIP, shawl, love knot, granny square

  I know, it's still not complete, but it's nice, isn't it? I'm joining the squares with a join-as-you-go technique, using the love knot stitch. Since I'm using this pattern to experiment for the "for-sale version", I used a bit of a different stitch pattern than the one in the square. I think it makes a nice design in between the joins.

crochet, lace, love knot, join-as-you-go, granny square

  It's very rewarding as a side project, because the large love knots make it grow quickly. But in my exhaustion, I became stumped on my own pattern. On paper, I had it planned out. When I came to the opposite side of the strip, I couldn't figure out why my corners weren't a symmetrical match to the other side.

crochet, granny square, love knot, join-as-you-go

  Either I got enough coffee or sleep to figure it out, because it finally clicked. Oh, was that one of those "DUH" moments... My corners did match. All I had to do was make one simple slip stitch, but I hadn't marked it as one on paper.

crochet, love knot, granny square, join-as-you-go

  YAY! So, I got past that little bump in the road and continued working. I finished the strip that you saw in the previous photos, and started the next. I got all the squares joined, but it became clear that I would run out of the yarn I was using before I finished the border. Instead of letting it become another figurative "bump in the road", I got my butt on the real road and picked up another skein. I was excited to make the join, continue with the strip, and get closer to the finish. Then I found the mistake I made at the beginning of the third square:

crochet, granny square, love knot,

  BOO! And I figured that if I have to take it that far apart, I might as well take it all the way apart to start with the new skein, and not have another end to weave in. I'm going to have enough to deal with when the project is finished. Then, I thought I should go ahead and take the time to weave in the ends on my squares, so I could take some prettier photos of a strip. But, the sun went down before I got them all finished. Since I wouldn't be able to take new pictures until the next day, I thought I might as well create a tutorial while I'm at it.

  I guess my mistakes are leading in a good direction, but I realize now that I made another. Since I deviated from my original design idea, it changed the width between the squares; the wrong way in both directions. A pattern that was originally going to be three rows of seven squares will now be two rows of eight. And what that means is that I owe a big apology to anybody that followed along and created the 21 squares I was calling for. I made them too, and I'm considering turning my extras into some kind of wall art.

  Depending on your size, you could stick with the three-row design, and make three more squares - I think it will be too short width-wise if you don't. I wear a size extra-small, and sometimes that's too big... Any of your average t-shirts in size medium will go past mid-thigh on me, so maybe a shawl three rows long would fit the average size person the right way. It's just too long for me, and I don't want to look like I'm wearing a blanket.

crochet, free pattern, love knot, granny square

  If you weren't interested before, but the prospect of a finished pattern has your attention, then you can find the pattern/tutorial for the square here. I promise, the design won't change again. It's safe to continue. It's actually done already, but I still have all that wonderful computer work to do before it can be shared with you. I hope to have the tutorial for the whole project posted soon, but I don't make promises anymore. You never know... I might get distracted and sew more than two flowers on the afghan before needing a break.

Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 6

New to this series and want to see all my "lost" projects? You can start here with episode 1. You'll find links at the end of each post for the next episode.

  Well, now... After the recent depressing string of events that have occurred, I've been looking forward to what's left of my lighthearted "Lost Crochet Files". But I have to admit that opening the files for the first project stopped me in my tracks - That's Mom's doily. I made her two of them for some candles she kept on the coffee table. So, it took me a while to get it back together and start this post. Other than that minor setback, finding these photos made me happy. We can all do a little happy dance and shake it off, because now that they've been found, I can use the pictures to recreate a pattern I was very proud of. Sooo....

  Whoop! For all the times I've been reminded of the bad feeling of losing my projects, I finally got to something I actually needed. Now I can be not-so-mad about the dog-eaten notebook... Okay, I'm still and always will be mad, but this helps. Let me introduce you to what was going to be my first-ever free crochet pattern on the blog:

crochet, doily, butterfly stitch

  Mom got her doilies, and my notebook got destroyed. I probably could have asked for one of them back to copy the stitches, but I didn't want to do that. I thought I could recreate it by memory, and I wanted some doilies for myself. I started recalling the details to make a set in colors matching my decor. The biggest thing that stood out in my mind was the round of butterfly stitches in a second color:

crochet, butterfly stitch, doily

  I remembered that the center was started with a large hole, to save a bit of yarn since it's under a large jar candle anyways. Mine were also going to be under candles, so I would copy the same idea. Honestly though, it's only a ten-inch doily... I don't know why I was worried about saving yarn. But hey, save it if you can, right?

doily, crochet, butterfly stitch

  I chose my colors and got to work. In no time at all, I had my doilies finished and a new pattern written. I was satisfied with how they looked, and company complemented them when I had them on display. Confident that my pattern was special enough, I published it on the blog. But after finding the pictures of the original doily, I think I could have done better. Comparing the two makes me wonder if my crochet skills went on a crack-smoking binge that day...

crochet, free crochet pattern, butterfly stitch, doily

  I do enjoy the second design of my doilies; it goes well with the spiderweb, skull, and dragon-filled theme of my decor. But, like my cheap furniture, it looks flimsy compared to the first design. I rushed to recapture what I had originally taken time to create, and it shows. It's still a good pattern. It's just not the same.

  And, since most of the "Lost Crochet Files" have followed a theme, I have one more that fits in with these round doilies. It's also another "fail". No, not the design - that was good - The purpose of this pattern was a fail. Back then, this beginner-designer had an "awesome" idea for a set of hot pads with a baking theme... Cool, right? Sure it is! And I went through all the work of creating this so-cool cherry pie hot pad, the first design of the series... In acrylic yarn.

hot pad, crochet, cherry pie, acrylic

  (That bit of yarn in the middle is just holding the pieces together while I join them; it's not part of the design.) The pattern itself would have made a cute doily, or maybe a dishcloth... It would even make a great hot pad, if made in cotton! Thankfully, I didn't find out my mistake in the "ouch, there goes dinner" kind of way. I actually found out about a week after finishing it, when I tried to iron another acrylic project. I couldn't get it to block out to the right shape, so I thought I would iron it

  Right. I've learned some things the hard way. I keep saying that throughout this series. I'm not a beginner-designer anymore, but I do still learn things the hard way. I think I always will. I learned that scraping melted acrylic off an iron can be a great workout for your triceps, and that if it won't block out, you're not going to iron it out, either. I'm just glad that I can look back and laugh, and I don't have any major burn scars from hot pad disasters.

  I even learned that not everything is a disaster. After finding the photos to compare projects, I actually considered pulling the pattern for my Butterfly Stitch Doily. The project could be made better, the pattern could be written better... And surely the photos could be better. But then I checked the stats on the page to find people are still viewing it regularly. Not a lot of people - about 50 a month - but there's views there. It's not bots or crawlers or any of that fake-traffic stuff that I barely understand, but real people that are viewing it for more than ten minutes at a time. I liked it before I compared it to Mom's doily. I guess I'm not the only one.

  The lesson: Don't ever be discouraged just because somebody else doesn't like your work. And maybe you shouldn't be discouraged when you're the one who isn't pleased with a project. Somebody out there likes it. Where you see holes, somebody else sees beautiful lace. When you think flimsy, someone else thinks delicate. Everyone has different tastes, and what you don't like will please somebody out there. And if in the end, you can't find one single person who enjoys what you've made, then you can count it as a learning experience. Like learning why not to iron that acrylic yarn, sometimes learning can be painful or messy. But hopefully, there will be a minimal amount of scarring and scraping, and you can call yourself more experienced when it's over.

Happy Crocheting!

Interested in more doily patterns? Check out two of my most popular: