Friday, July 22, 2016

Lost and Found

  To make a long story short: Yesterday + ants = Exterminator coming today. It's been raining every day, we're flooded up to and under the house, and the poor bugs just want to find high ground... But sorry, they're not welcome here.

  Well, that leads to a bigger problem: Mission to get organized + not enough space = Big mess. I had traded out what used to be my yarn cabinet for a bunch of plastic bins, and moved the cabinet into The Kid's room for her books and movies. Needing help but not wanting to turn her into slave labor, I made the mistake of asking if she could empty the cabinet... Just put it all on the couch... I'll get to it soon...

  Yeah, right! She did her part, but my mess has sat on the couch for a few days now. However, now I'm hustling. I'm not letting it sit there while the bug people do their work. I had an embarrassing situation last time when the guy blamed the ants all on me. Nope, it's not rain causing the problem, he said... I need to clean more, he told me. To which I'm like:

  Are you kidding me? I vacuum almost every day, mop twice a week, wipe down counters and tables every time I use them, and dust once a week (ceilings, too). Okay, so (clean) laundry tends to pile up unfolded, and there's usually a few dirty dishes in the sink. I still KNOW I clean more than most... Who disinfects every door knob and handle in the house once a day? 

But I do know I am a clean freak with a clutter problem. Look what I found stuffed in one of the boxes from the cabinet:

crochet, plarn, rug, cats

crochet, cats

  The plarn project, not the cat... He just won't move, and the snoring Other Half will be in the photos if I move over. So, today you get kitty pics. Now, back to the project: I don't remember what it was supposed to be. I have no memory of working on it. And I'm not going to continue working on it, because it's the perfect size to be used as a runner in front of my kitchen sink. All I have to do is weave in a few ends, and get it straightened out after being folded up for who knows how long.

crochet, cats

That one's just to prove Jump Steady won't move. No, he's not playing. He hasn't moved in about 5 hours. I put it on him. And he still won't move.  

crochet, cats

  So after giving the project (and me) a stretch via downward-facing dog, it was in much better shape. Some of the really bad creases are still a problem, but I wonder if a little use will press them out. I tucked in the ends before moving it to the kitchen, deciding to scrap the project if the wrinkles don't straighten out.

crochet, cats

And he still hasn't moved...

crochet, stash, plarn

  With a cat in the way and The Other Half still snoring (also in the way), I went through bags and boxes, finding more unfinished projects that I had no memory of. I stuffed one big shoe box full of scraps, test squares, and other random nonsense that could be thrown away. (GASP!) The cabinet wasn't airtight, and anything not protected by plastic is horribly contaminated with dust. In the end, I reduced my clutter by two large shoe boxes and one small...

crochet, cats

Okay, two large shoe boxes. The small one I emptied seems to be full again...

crochet, cats

I told Lucky if she was going to take over the box, I would take cute kitty pics of her.

crochet, cats

So, of course she moved. Good, now I can get back to work and haul all three of these boxes out for the...

crochet, cats

So, I reduced my clutter by two large shoe boxes, and gained another new plarn rug.  

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fighting the Urge

  Sometimes I'm a perfectionist, and other times I'm willing to let minor details slide. Many times I find these two sides of my personality fighting each other. When that happens, I can count on productiveness flying out the window. This is one of those times.

  I was making great progress on my Grannies in a Love Triangle shawl, but then I got that order for an elephant rug... That is going nicely at least; it's easy for me to follow the well-written pattern with no mistakes to rip out. But when I couldn't access the PDF on my PC because of more (severe) thunderstorms, I had to set the project aside. Not wanting to waste time, I picked up the shawl again.

crochet, shawl, love knot, solomon's knot,

  I finished the last round before the edging starts. Yay. That's a sarcastic "yay", because I found a mistake on the opposite side. It's not a big mistake; I simply missed one stitch, and you can barely see it. It won't cause any problem with working the final round. It doesn't even make any difference in the shape. I think many crocheters would say "oh well" and keep working. But I'm fighting the urge to take it all the way back to my mistake and fix it.

crochet, mistakes, fudging, frogging

  As I kicked the question around in my mind, I took a few photos that would be usable for the pattern, mistake not showing. My camera refused to focus properly, the lighting kept changing, and now we're in the middle of another thunderstorm, so I need to get off the computer anyway... Sometimes I wonder if all these setbacks are bad omens telling me I need to fix my mistake.

  And I'm back. I thought more about it during my break: I think too much. This is just a test pattern, a pre-pattern, a FREE pattern that I'm writing to see if people like it... I kinda like the combination of stripes and squares, but I also think it looks a little weird. I want to design a similar pattern to sell, but I'm not sure if I like the stripe/square design after all. Just because I missed one stitch while creating the shawl doesn't mean I can't keep working, finish the pattern, and get it published so I can see how it goes.

crochet, shawl, love knot

  So, fudge it. Fudge the fudging mistake, and get on with the fudging pattern. The missed stitch blends into all those lacy loops, and you'd have to be picking it apart to notice it. I need to stop thinking that every thunderstorm, bad photo, and anything else that holds me back is a sign that I should rip my work back even farther. It's called July in Florida, an almost dead battery, and life situations. I often look at crochet as a metaphor for life, but life doesn't have to be a metaphor for crochet. Sometimes you just have to say "fudge it" and look past the mistakes to admire the beauty around them. There, how's that for a metaphor?

Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Giant Plarn Rug Pattern

  I've had tons of ideas for plarn (plastic yarn) projects over the years, but I've only created a few. That didn't stop me from collecting the grocery bags for the intended projects, and it led to a bit of a bag-hoarding problem. I had bags in the closet, bags in a box, bags under the bed, and bags in a plastic bin. Plarn is a great way to recycle, but it can take a long time to turn your grocery bags into enough material for a crochet project.

  Giant plarn to the rescue! No spiral cutting needed, and only three cuts per bag: Cut off the top and bottom of the bag, then cut the remainder in half to form loops. Join the loops together, and you'll have ridiculously thick, double-strand plarn that's great for making a super-squishy rug like this one. (Find help with how-to here!) I made this monster to fit in The Kid's room, but it's easy for you to make yours any size you need. And there's no hook required! This project is worked up using finger crochet.

free crochet pattern, plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, recycle

Finished size of the rug shown is 89" (226 cm) long (width of rows) by 38" (96.5 cm) tall.

free crochet pattern, plarn, plastic yarn, rug, mat, crochet

Skill level:

plarn, plastic yarn, how to cut, Giant Plarn Rug

Plarn created with method described in 2nd paragraph above - The project shown used over 500 bags! - I've made the process of cutting easier by stacking multiple bags and cutting them with a rotary cutter. If you're using some good sharp scissors, you may be able to cut more than one bag at a time.
In the project shown, there is over 400 bags of the main color and about 100 bags of the contrasting color.
You can figure how many you'll need with a quick test swatch... My gauge used one whole bag (a length of 2 loops) over just two stitches (single crochet).
You may want optional items to create a non-slip backing - The easy solution is hot glue. Non-slip drawer liner is another option.
...And that's it - No hook, no needle!

Not important, and will most likely vary because of finger crochet.
My gauge from using my index and middle fingers as a hook: 2 rows of 2 single crochet stiches = 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm).

Chain-1 at beginning of rows counts as a single crochet.

Change colors on the last stitch in the row, pulling the new color through with the last yarn-over of the stitch.

The pattern gives you instructions for how to make the rug any size you wish, plus I'm providing the exact instructions for how I made mine in parenthesis ( ). You can work more rows, alter the pattern for more space between color changes, make it all one color, or use a random placement of colors for a funky look.

Foundation single crochet (Click here to watch me make this stitch using giant plarn and finger crochet!)
Single crochet
Slip stitch

plarn, plastic yarn, crochet, rug, mat, extra-thick

Use your index and middle fingers held together as a hook.

Row 1:
Make (42) foundation single crochet to begin.

Row 2:
Chain 1, turn. Make 1 single crochet in each single crochet across.

All additional rows:
Repeat row 2 for the desired number of rows to a color change (5 total), ending on an odd numbered row.

With contrasting color, repeat row 2, changing back to main color on the last stitch. Mark this side as the right side (if desired) before turning.

Repeat previous 2 steps, then repeat row 2 with main color for the desired number (5) of rows. You can bind off here to follow my design, or you can continue repeating the pattern for a taller rug.

With wrong side facing and contrasting color, begin in any stitch with chain 1. Work 1 single crochet in each stitch across, and (single crochet, chain 1, single crochet) in corner spaces, repeating around. Join with a slip stitch to beginning chain-1. Bind off contrasting color.

With main color, begin in a corner chain-1 space with chain 2, single crochet (counts as single crochet, chain 1, single crochet). Make 1 single crochet in each stitch across, and (single crochet, chain 1, single crochet) in corner chain-1 spaces, repeating around. Join with a slip stitch to beginning chain-1.

Slip stitch in the corner space, chain 2, single crochet in same space. Work same as previous round. Join and bind off, or continue repeating for desired number of rounds.

Weave in ends on wrong side, using your finger to pull the material through as you would with a hook.

  On carpet, I don't have any problem with this rug slipping. But I know from experience that a plarn rug will slip on a bare floor. You may want to run some hot-glue lines across the back side to prevent it from sliding. Because I only get about three feet of coverage from a glue stick, I concentrate on getting the corners and a bit of the center. You can also attach non-slip drawer liner for a completely skid-roof back.

  And for an extra tip: The Kid discovered that she can roll this rug up and use it for a pillow against the wall. She made herself a cute little reading nook, took off with one of my Dean Koontz books, and I haven't seen her much since....

plarn, plastic yarn, rug, mat, crochet,

Remember to watch small kids and all pets around your plarn projects!

Happy Crocheting!

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