Monday, August 15, 2016

Where I've Been

  Things have been so hectic around here that I haven't had much time to share what I've been doing... I mean, the one big project I've been working on: The Josephina Elephant rug by Ira Rott Designs. From the time I finally received the back-ordered yarn to the point of finishing, this project took me three weeks. But interruptions aside, I only have about five days of work in it. Now, please excuse me while I toot my own horn... Can I get a "woo-hoo"?

elephant, rug, crochet

  I'm usually not so proud of finishing a design that's not my own, but this one has me smiling big. The simple double crochet of the head: Got it. The popcorn and picot stitches of the ears: No problem. The joining of the pieces: Okay, not my favorite job, but I'm more than capable. So, what's the big deal about me finishing this project?


  First, there is the blocking required for the ears. I shy away from large designs that need shaping because of space/cats. (Translation - If I can find the space, a cat will find its way there.) I was able to fit both pieces on the old ripped bath sheet I use for bigger patterns, and I put a firm foot down (along with some treats) to keep kitties away.

crochet, blocking

Sidetrack: Gotta love that texture...

crochet, texture, popcorn, lace

  So for three days in a row, I had to move the project back out of the kitchen before the pieces had a chance to fully dry and block. The Other Half says "no, I can walk around it", but he doesn't realize that he drops concrete dust everywhere he goes. I don't need those dirty work boots travelling across this pretty pattern, so I lost some time for those few days.


  It held me back at first, and then I started losing hope of finishing it. Determined to not let that happen, I decided to start weaving in some leftover ends and working on the facial features. Stacking the rest of the project on top of the ears as they blocked, I got back to work.

crochet, elephant rug, pieces

  And that's when the nightmare began. Have you ever noticed that I don't create things with facial features, or anything that requires embroidery? It's because they both drive me nuts. If an eyeball is a hair off, I'll notice it. If a stitch isn't the same length as the rest, I'll see it. Not to mention my sewing skills are horrible... This is the part of the pattern I've been dreading. And as I predicted, the event began with four hours of sitting on the floor while trying to get the eyeballs straight. One is 1/8" too low.

crochet, elephant rug, eyes

  But, I did a smart thing and left my ends loose until I finished everything. It allowed me to pull out part of the first eye and fudge it over a bit so they're even... Well, even enough. I can still see where it's off, but The Other Half swears it looks perfect to him.


  And I'm super-proud that I took the time to get over my fears and try to sew. I think I made back stitches where I was supposed to be whip stitching, but I got the job done without a rat's nest of yarn behind it:

crochet, elephant rug, sewing

  Okay, so now that the eyes are in place, I'm good, right? No, not me... I spent another hour trying to decide where to place the bow while also thinking about redoing the eyes.

crochet, elephant rug, bow

  I left the eyes and the bow alone for a while, and moved on to the next scariest part: Chain stitching the eyebrows. Oh, a chain stitch? I can crochet that... Wait, what do you mean it's EMBROIDERY? No... No, I can't do that. 

crochet, elephant rug, embroidery, eyebrows

  I did it, ha ha! I'm pretty sure I made those stitches backwards from the way you're supposed to, but I did it. It took me two hours of pulling the yarn back out and trying again, but I did it. And that was just for the first eyebrow...

  Despite lots of ripping and trying again, I thought I was doing a really good job. Just the fact that I sewed something in a pretty-straight line was enough to make me happy. Getting the first eyebrow finished was an accomplishment like no other, and it boosted my confidence. I can do this. By counting the stitches and comparing to the first, I found the placement of the second eyebrow much easier. I chain-stitched on with newfound belief in myself. And then...

crochet, embroidery, sewing, fails
  
  I thought the yarn felt funny as it pulled through! Since I didn't need that tape measure for the placement anymore, it somehow found its way back into my project. Oh well! I had a laugh over it, ripped out a few stitches to retrieve my tape, and moved on to finish without more mishaps.

crochet, elephant rug, finished

  I even became so confident in my (lack of) embroidery skill that I added an extra feature that wasn't part of the pattern. Still noticing that the eyes are a bit too low and the eyebrows are a little high, I thought some cute little eyelashes might fix what I saw wrong. Using the long tails I had cut from the eyes, I made something like a running stitch to create the lashes.

crochet, elephant rug, embroidery, eyelashes

  Now, let me stop tooting my own horn and explain something: This isn't a pattern that I would have made on my own. I have no desire to decorate my house with elephants, I don't want to embroider, and I hate creating facial features because it's an OCD nightmare. But I am so glad that Big Bro got me this little side job, because it pushed me to do what I avoid, and proved that I can do it.

  This pattern was a treat to work. The contrast in the textures of popcorn and lace is appealing to the senses. The speed of working with three strands is rewarding. And even if I'm not fond of elephants, this rug is so cute. Big Bro said the people that ordered this will be wanting a rug for each of their other two kids. I thought I'd never take in orders again, but now I'm looking forward to it.

Happy Crocheting!

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