Thursday, December 7, 2017

Surface Crochet Faux Fur

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

  Let's be honest: Faux fur yarn can be difficult to work with. And now the Bernat Boa in my stash is even more frustrating because it's been discontinued! πŸ˜₯ In the past, I combined it with a strand of worsted in the Furry Fingerless Gloves pattern to add some bulk and make the stitches easier to find... That was helpful but still may not be an easy pattern for a beginner. Now I've found another great way to use it, and it's as simple as surface crochet.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


  My original surface crochet tutorial will show you a bunch of ways to create designs with different stitches, but we don't need all that info for this simple faux fur. In this new tutorial we'll only be using an easy slip stitch. Here's some quick basics to know:


  • You'll need something crocheted or knitted to work your surface crochet over.


  • I'm using the same size hook for the original piece and for the surface crochet. If you find your work puckering or bulging, you may need to change hook sizes to match gauge.


baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn



  • This method will work with any yarn you like... It doesn't have to be faux fur.


  • Surface crochet must start from the back of the work, with the yarn coming from underneath. You can start anywhere you like depending on the design you're creating, but I'll be starting in a corner space and working in every stitch across to cover the entire piece in faux fur.

Okay, now let's get to work...

Beginning:

1. Insert the hook from front to back. Yarn over so the working yarn is over the front of your hook:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


2. Bring up a loop:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

(You may start with a slip knot if you like, but I chose to start with just a loop and stitch over the tail to secure.)

The stitch:

3. The yarn needs to be anchored around the post of a stitch, or you'll just be making chains upwards... Insert your hook in the next stitch:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


4. Yarn over, then pull the working yarn through the loop on the hook:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


Just repeat across: Insert hook in the next stitch, yarn over, pull through loop on hook. Now, what to do when you reach the end of a row?

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


Rotate (do not flip) your work around so you can work back in the other direction:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

Tips:

I'm moving up to the next row each time I reach the edge. For thicker fur, you could work back into the same row after you turn or you can flip your work and make slip stitches on both sides. See here how the back side isn't completely covered:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

If you do flip it for a double-sided design: You'll need to work to the outside of your edge stitch, keeping the working yarn underneath when you turn the piece over.

I've left the outer stitches of these pieces uncovered because I still have to sew them together:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


This is a much easier way to create faux fur without having to fight to find your stitches! But to be perfectly honest: Once you've added a few rows, the fuzz can start overlapping the space you need to work into. (Still, so much less frustrating!) I just smooth the fur away with my thumb before making a stitch to make sure I'm working into the correct space.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

  Well, there you have the stitch and some extra tips on how to make faux fur with surface crochet. Since Bernat Boa yarn has been discontinued, you'll be getting this design for free as another how-to tutorial that will teach you how to measure to create the pattern in any size you like... Faux fur optional.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Irma Hat and Holiday Specials

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  There's a new pattern in my Ravelry store! I'm not here to beg you to buy it. I'm just here to help you save some money in case you do buy it. Keep reading for a super deal I found on the yarn... You just might get a discount on this pattern's purchase price, and more! πŸ˜‰

  The full price for The Irma Hat crochet pattern is only $1.50 (USD). Using bulky yarn and a large hook, it's easy to finish a hat in a day (I'm able to finish one in about an hour if I don't take a break). The pattern includes a measurement chart for all sizes or any yarn, plus a photo tutorial to help you get started. It's made from the bottom up with my favorite "chain-less" beginning for plenty of stretch.

  With the holidays approaching, I think it's a great design for some quick gifts! Even using worsted-weight yarn, I was able to complete a hat in less than a day. And that means if you don't want to go buy more yarn... Wait... We always want to go buy more yarn, right??? But seriously, you can use the size chart provided in the pattern to adjust for anything you might happen to have in your stash. Here's one I made from scraps of worsted:

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  And now, for those deals! So, in case you really do want to buy more yarn, because you know you do... I want to give you a head's up about a crazy deal on the Loops & Threads Charisma yarn called for in the pattern: 

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Ooo, goody, goody! My dad handed me the Michaels Black Friday advertisement that was in the paper, and this "Epic Bag" immediately caught my eye. You get 20 color-coordinated skeins of Charisma for... Are you ready? $40!!! That's only $2 a piece for a yarn that currently sells for $4.49.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  So I... The one who doesn't care for the holidays and absolutely hates Black Friday shopping... I was one of the ones walking through the door as Michaels opened on Thanksgiving day for early Black Friday deals. 😱 I got my Epic Bag, and I survived the not-so-bad Holiday Madness. Ready to open it with me?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Wait, I'm sorry... Ready to open the reusable bag that the yarn comes in? You know, the bag that would be perfect for storing the afghan made from the yarn and one of the two patterns provided?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Well, there's duplicate colors underneath, so I guess there's not much of a point in digging through the bag... But hold on - Maybe there is! What is that tucked in there?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Oh, that's just something else that's included - I failed to get farther than "20 skeins for $40" on the label... So cool! There's even a nice-looking wooden hook in this big bag of beautiful:

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Now, just to stress the point: This isn't a review; I haven't used the hook yet. It feels smooth and light, yet strong. It's totally round, which I'm starting to prefer when my joints are swollen. For those who prefer a hook with a flat thumb rest, perhaps it might not be the ideal addition to your collection.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Although I'm eager to try that hook out with the provided pattern, these skeins weren't bought for making an afghan. I'll be making even more Irma Hats to sell locally and online. Any profits I can make from the sale of the pattern or the hats will be used to help Rip and I find a new home after Hurricane Irma took ours... And since your purchase will be helping me out, I want to help you save money on the yarn, too.

  If you can't make it to a Michaels store for the deal on the Epic Bag, you can often find Charisma yarn on sale in-store or online for less than $3 a skein. When I purchased the original 5 skeins to work on this project, it was on sale for $2. If you can't wait to find it on sale, Michaels also always has coupons available for up to 50% off an item. One skein of Charisma yarn is all that's needed to complete an adult large hat.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

 To keep spreading that holiday-discount love, I'm also offering 25% off all patterns in my Ravelry store for the rest of the year! Just use the code "holiday" at checkout. But wait, there's more!!! (See, late night infomercials have taught me something. 😈😁)

crochet, pattern, for sale, Ravelry, holiday, holly, table runner 




  As my thanks to you for your purchase, you can get the Irma Hat pattern for just $1 until December 24th, 2017. Use code "Irma" at checkout or click this link. Once that promotion is over, you'll still be able to use the 25% off on the pattern until December 31st.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  Irma took my house, but she couldn't take my love of crochet away. (Told'ya I just needed some time to straighten things out!) Hopefully I'll be able to get back to offering more free patterns soon... Until then, please enjoy discounted prices and know that your purchases will go towards a good cause. Thank you!

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday Snapshots

photography, cat, flowers, azalea, lantana, Florida, fall

  A sleepless night of crocheting led to a few finished projects. (5 hats!) I should have been spending the day working on writing a pattern and weaving in a few leftover loose ends, but a feeble attempt at sleep ended in a brain that's not fit for counting. I went outside to clear my mind in the mild fall air instead. Something caught my eye that made me go back in for the camera... And what was supposed to be "one quick picture" later, I have a few snapshots to share: 


  A guest plant has made a surprise visit to Dad's yard... A little wild lantana (shrub verbena) popped up next to the driveway! As a child, I thought these flowers were extra-special because one bloom is like a miniature bouquet of multicolored flowers all on one stalk. It was difficult to pick these "magical" blossoms because of their many sharp thorns, so most were lucky to be left alone to grow.

  Back in those days, I would find a mix of the multicolored variety along with solid yellow ones. Little did I know how special those bright yellow flowers were... A Florida native, l. depressa is now on the endangered list of plants that are getting harder to find. It's quite common to spot l. camara (the multicolored ones) growing along the sides of roads here in central Florida, and apparently they'll work on taking over your yard as well.


flowers, azalea, salmon/orange

  Already having the camera out, I decided to get some shots of Dad's azaleas. This salmon/orange variety makes a beautiful specimen for practicing photography.


flowers, photography, azaleas, white

  The same flowers in white made for a challenge! I found it difficult to find the right settings to avoid washing out the picture, and a mild breeze picked up while I was trying. Originally I adjusted for a lower ISO and longer shutter speed, but kept getting a blurry picture due to the wind. Eventually I got an almost-perfect shot with a higher speed of 1/2500 and the ISO at 6400.


flower, photography, azaleas, pink, variegated

  The same setting got me an awesome shot of this pink variety without having to worry about blurry blossoms blowing in the breeze.


photography, flowers, azalea, bud, blossom

  And I tried my hand at a closeup of this little bud, but found the photo just didn't have much aesthetic appeal for me. I got bored with the azaleas and started to review my photos, and that's when I noticed a little green bug had been hanging out on the lantana in some of the best shots. I wanted to try again without the photo-bomber, so I went back to the driveway...


photography, flowers, lantana, l. camara

  The auto-rotate function on the camera got me again! I leaned over too far trying to check for that bug and got a vertical picture. I should have been paying more attention... I have no idea what could have distracted me so much...


photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

   Oh, yeah, maybe it's that... "ME!!!" said Jump Steady... "You're supposed to be taking pictures of ME!!!" Obviously, any further photos of the lantana were forgotten as soon as the cats realized the camera was out...


photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

  Of course, as soon as the cats had my attention they had to act like I was bothering them. With the photo shoot interrupted, Jump Steady felt it was a good time to go take a nap. I went back to see if there were any more interesting blossoms on the azaleas I might have missed...


photography, Florida, toad, southern

  And found something interesting, indeed! Another guest has invaded the yard, making a home in the mulch under the azaleas. Aw, this little guy makes a cool picture, all camouflaged in his not-so-hidden burrow... 


photography, Florida, toad, southern

  But Mr. Toad wasn't so happy that I was bothering him. He started to ooze some stuff out of his warts, and I don't speak Toad but I'm pretty sure that means "leave me alone". It's also gross. I'm almost positive that this is just the common native southern toad which is harmless, but I'm no expert... Okay, it's time to leave Mr. Toad alone.

  The day progressed without any other photo-worthy moments. We went down to the old house to pack boxes of what can be salvaged, but came back empty-handed in the end. Starting in the kitchen, I tried to empty the cabinets... My cookie sheets: Covered in mold. Baking pans: Mold. Oven mitts, towels, ice cube trays, etc.: Mold, mold, and mold. I'm starting to think anything left behind is a total loss. It puts Rip and I both in a sour mood and makes rummaging through the remains a depressing task.


photography, long exposure, night photos, stars

  The sun set an hour earlier today, revealing a beautiful moon that's just one day past full... You can bet I was back outside with the camera for those night shots I've been working on. Again I had trouble capturing the perfect picture of what I'm envisioning, so I abandoned my attempts at getting the moon in the photo. Except for that issue, I think I'm getting familiar enough with the settings and I'm ready to try a scene other than Dad's trees.

photography, long exposure, nature, oak, moss

  Still, I love these shots for what they are... It might not be much of a scene to look at in a glance, but it's the feeling you get if your brain catches what's "wrong" with the pictures. I like things that have a creepy/beautiful style more than something that's just "pretty".

  Perhaps this photography will lead me in another direction after all... But that doesn't mean it will take me away from crocheting! I'm hoping my newfound hobby helps to feed my creativity; maybe it will just fuel my uncertainty in the end. All I know now is that I have a choice between going back out with the camera or weaving in loose ends on all those hats I've been making. For once, I'm actually looking forward to picking up the yarn needle.

Happy Crocheting!
PS - Although the pattern is still lost and may never be found, I finally finished that scarf.
😁

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Loose Ends

crochet, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Keeping up with friends isn't easy in my current situation. I want so badly to have a binge day of catching up on everyone's blogs and browsing new patterns! Until I can find the time to do that again, I've made a goal to try to post something here once a week to keep me motivated... Well, this past week sure has been "something", but not much crochet is getting finished.

  I started a scarf during Hurricane Irma. It was meant to be a free pattern, but there's too many loose ends to deal with right now. (No, no... Not in the scarf, but in life itself.) As we watched the water rise around us, while we listened to the wind rip the shingles off Dad's roof, and the whole time wondered if we would have anything to return to, I crocheted to keep calm. When the cleanup began after the storm, the project suffered some neglect.
 
crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, chain stitch, woven

  I began other projects, and this scarf became buried under a pile of half-finished things. The good news is that I found the project with its hook still attached. Progress resumes amid frustration with the other work I started. The bad news... If I wrote down a pattern, I can't find it now! My yarn is in tangled piles, those other projects just won't come together the way I want, and I feel like I just need to finish something or give it up already. So instead of becoming irritated with counting more stitches in another unfinished item, I decided to complete the scarf with a round of plain double crochet:

crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, double crochet

  I like it, though I feel like that plain border is a form of "giving up". But perhaps it's all those loose ends in life that are aggravating me the most... As I sit on Dad's couch which is covered in the Big Huge Afghan (which produced the scraps that are making this scarf), I can look at some of my best work and know I'm no failure. I just feel like I should be doing something else right now.

crochet, scarf, afghan, WIP, work in progress, yarn scraps

  It's always good to be able to understand what is really bothering you, and to differentiate between it and the smaller issues that build under the weight of the big problem. I've come to a point where I'm almost ready to give up on crochet, but unfinished projects are not the real cause of all this stress! 

  Applying for help with FEMA has been a roller coaster ride. The low-interest loan we qualified for through the program is a start, but I think their amount is a joke if we're supposed to use it to rebuild our lives. Any chance I've had at a free day has been spent meeting another inspector at the house that's an hour away from where we're staying, or filling out more forms to get that loan. There's still our home full of our moldy belongings to clean out, the car to sell, and cats to find homes for. The one thing that hasn't changed is the constant pile of Rip's laundry needing to be done. No, it's not my crochet that is causing this meltdown in my brain... It's too many roadblocks stopping life from progressing that turns one missed stitch into a major disaster in my mind.

  To decompress, I've turned to my old hobby of photography. I've wanted to experiment with long-exposure shots in the dark ever since getting the new camera. I have also been meaning to try out a better photo editing program, plus expand this blog into more than just crochet... So I finally did a little of it all:

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  On the bright side, I'm learning I have a talent for taking some interesting photos in complete darkness. What's not so great is my skill to make them better with that new editing program. Above, I managed to turn a plain picture of the harvest moon into an amateur's artsy painting. Below, I edited a different photo of that same moon into... Something.

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  Those were both done before I realized that I was trying too hard, attempting to take a long-exposure shot of a light source ( the moon) in the dark. What I needed was a simple, balanced, dark picture to get what I wanted...

photography, photo editing, stars, long exposure, night sky

  And BOOM! I have that awesome shot that looks like the stars are out in the daytime. This is the kind of photography that can get me as excited as a new yarn at the craft store. (And psst... That last one isn't edited for looks; just a re-size and a logo.) So perhaps I need to feed my other talents for a while before I can get back to working seriously on my crochet. Taking pictures doesn't require me to keep count, untangle, or record stitches. It just feels good to look through the lens and capture my vision of the world. But first, there's some loose ends to deal with...

crochet, WIP, work in progress, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Seriously, this time I mean those yarn ends! This morning we woke up to lows in the upper 30's. I know I do this every year, but... Don't I live in Florida??? Where did summer go? I want it back; it's too cold!!! Okay, I'll stop complaining and go finish that scarf now. I will need it if I'm going to be out at night taking more of those awesome pictures.

Happy Crocheting!

PS - In the meantime, I can stick to snapping shots of this amazing view every time I have to go back to the old house. πŸ˜ƒ
sunset, lake, pictures, photography