Saturday, September 10, 2016

Expect the Unexpected

  You know that feeling when you know you shouldn't buy yarn, but the craft store sends you an email about an amazing sale? (Of course, you could replace the words "yarn" and "craft store" with whatever vices fit...) Well, they got me. I've been on the lookout for a certain yarn to show up in the local Michaels, but suffered disappointment every visit. I was starting to think I'd never see it here! When the email popped up saying they had it on sale for a great price, I had to go looking again... And right there on an end cap display:

yarn, crochet, Caron Cakes

  It's a win-lose situation. Honestly, I'm doing a happy dance over finding Caron Cakes, despite knowing I shouldn't be buying more yarn. You could forgive me for that, right? Who can turn down those beautiful colors? I'm also happy to find that the 20% wool doesn't seem to be causing me a reaction yet... So, double "yay"!

  That's pretty much where I can stop making excuses for myself and admit that I totally went yarn shopping. I've had a few lone balls of Bernat Pipsqueak sitting around, and one night this week I decided to turn them into a blanket. Except, one ball is pink, and I don't want a pink blanket. I quickly found that the other ball won't make much of a blanket by itself. The project was already started, so what could I do? I picked up a few balls so I can finish it.

yarn, crochet, Bernat Pipsqueak

  And then, WHY did I pull out my phone to check the email to see if I had missed anything else on sale? What? What is that yarn? It's new? If they've been advertising it, I've missed it. Where is it in the store? Oh, right next to the Caron Cakes! I must have been blinded by their pretty colors. Yup, well, two skeins of that are going in my basket...

yarn, crochet, Loops & Threads Facets

  Oops! I'm glad I checked that email! The sale is only if you buy two skeins... Well, let's just slip one more of those Caron Cakes in there, then we can call this shopping trip done.

yarn, crochet, Caron Cakes

  Ooo, what's this? What's that? When did they start carrying that yarn? GET ME OUT OF THE CRAFT STORE BEFORE I DRAIN MY BANK ACCOUNT! Yup, there's no hope for me... A yarn addict is a yarn addict. But I do have one interesting story for you from after my shopping trip:

  I wore my "fairy" shawl when I went out. There's this little proud/selfish part of my brain that wants people at the craft store to see my creations and "ooo and ah" over them. Nobody has ever said a thing to me, and it's always a little disappointing. Same thing this trip, except we stopped for a coffee on the way home... And the young redheaded barista looks over at me and says "OMG, did you make that yourself? It's beautiful! I just made this hat... I'm still learning, but I have a million things saved on Pinterest."

  And in my social awkwardness, I just said "thanks" and no more... I wish I had said more. Perhaps I'll catch her at the coffee shop some other time, and be a bit more prepared. She surprised me; after thinking I'll find praise at the place where crafts are born and getting none, I wasn't expecting it anywhere else. I guess it proves you can always expect the unexpected.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Loopy Loops

  Sometimes I get busy with projects and forget to blog about them. The experimenting that I've been doing with my latest plarn project has been kept behind the scenes, so I figured I should take a minute to share what's going on.

  Ever since I made my Giant Plarn Rug, I've been looking for an improvement to the design. My original creation was a bit of a novelty; just a neat way to use up a stash of bags that has grown too big. But even after making that monstrosity, I still have tons of bags! My free time has been filled with cutting and joining loops.

plarn, plastic bag yarn, recycling, crochet

  I'm still keeping the material wide but I've cut it thinner than before, making three loops from a bag instead of two. And even though I can cut more bags at one time with my rotary cutter, I'm finding the paper cutter Dad gave me to be a much safer option... The blade constantly comes loose on my cutter, and I'm afraid I'll end up having an accident with it. I already had one case where I dropped it, and stupidly tried to catch it. I'll spare you the pictures of the bloody aftermath.

paper cutter, making plarn

  Being more confident that I won't loose a finger while working has motivated me to work more often at making plarn. My original idea was to use up my stash making mats for the homeless, but I need to stop this perpetual problem first... I just don't have enough time to keep cutting, so the stash continues to rebuild with each weekly shopping trip. Yes, I'm a horrible person and still use disposable bags. After many times of taking my reusable bags along to Walmart, only to turn around from unloading the cart to see my things being packed in disposables, I just stopped taking them with and have since given them away. I think I'm going to use some of this test material to whip up a few new reusable bags, then try again to reduce the amount of bags piling up. I just don't know if finger crocheting with extra-thick plarn will be a good idea for a bag...

crochet, finger crochet, plarn

  But I guess I'll find out soon, won't I? It should work fine for larger items, but something small will probably fall out.

  Back to making the plarn... After the first few tries with the paper cutter, I thought it was a failure. If I can't cut at least five bags at a time, then the machine it isn't efficient enough to work with. I was having to chop two and three times to get through the material, and it was leaving sloppy cuts. Then, thankfully, I reviewed the next two photos for the tutorial I'm making:

paper cutter, making plarn

paper cutter, making plarn

  I saw on camera what my eyes didn't see in front of me. The bags are wider than the blade! No wonder it wasn't chopping all the way through them. The cut I made in that stack was so horrible, I figured it couldn't hurt to try folding them in half and cutting again...

paper cutter, making plarn

  And it was a success! With them folded in half, I found I could cut through six bags at a time, but no more. I think if I have to chop more than once, them I'm probably just damaging the blade of the cutter. I'm cutting each bag into three loops, which makes them about 4" (10 cm) wide.

making plarn, loop method, paper cutter

  So, I'm happily slice-chunking away at my bag stash, and it takes me less than ten minutes to cut enough bags for one of the granny squares I'm making. It takes me about ten more minutes to join the material, and then maybe another ten to crochet the square. But after half an hour listening to the nonstop rustling of plastic, it begins grating on my senses.

granny square, plarn, giant

  And that's why I'm experimenting with these giant two-round grannies... One and done. Crocheting shouldn't irritate me. I don't have a project sitting with active stitches, and there's no pile of plarn getting tangled where I leave it. If I don't have the time to work on the project, then the rest just remains a bag full of bags. But maybe if I get motivated (or some HELP), I can get more than that done. I used to really like working with plarn, but I seem to have lost my fascination with it. Knowing the material is piling up is causing me anxiety, and I think I just need to get all these bags out of my house so I can go back to yarn and

Happy Crocheting!

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