Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Almost Done

  Hi! πŸ˜€ I'm back and I have a truck again, so it's time to get busy. I was starting to loose hope for my vehicle along with the Crochet is the Way business, but I guess I needed to go turn some wrenches to get the gears turning in my mind. This new algorithm change has made it impossible to continue blogging full-time, but it doesn't mean I'll disappear completely. I just have to concentrate more of my efforts on something that will actually make money, like selling my patterns and the items made from them. It may be a bit slower than before, but I still have to keep the blog around for things like this:

crochet, scarf, pattern, for-sale, free gift, Caron Simply Soft

  For those who missed it, that would be the scarf that I needed your opinions to complete. And for those who helped and are waiting for their gift-pattern, it will be available soon! (See the end of this post for another opportunity to have this pattern gifted to you.) The project itself may be finished, but now comes the task of turning it into a PDF for Ravelry. It could be a simple job for me, but the program I've been using is now acting funny... Pictures are jumping around to places I didn't put them, and pages are splitting for no reason. UGH.

crochet, scarf, pattern, for-sale, free gift, before and after

  But, like usual, I will figure it out. (Just like with my truck.) It's frustrating and slightly disappointing that I got so close to having the pattern ready, and now there's a new problem to fight with. I'm taking a break and then I'm going to try opening a new file and starting over. If that doesn't fix it, then I'll go find another program. I'm at a point in my life where I'm sick of things constantly holding me back. If whatever is standing in my way can't be fixed, it's getting deleted. (Like my car.)

  Now that the update on the pattern is over, can I cry a little over my truck? This is what I have after a "friend" was trusted to fix it... The job wasn't completed when he dropped it off in my yard, saying "it's your problem". It wasn't in perfect condition before he "worked" on it, but now it's pretty much trashed. After being left in the sun for almost a year, my dash is split in half. Brand new tires were allowed to sit flat, completely destroying them. And my tailgate was ruined when he pushed it here with an ATV. 😒

My truck, S10, Chevrolet

My truck, S10, Chevrolet

My truck, S10, Chevrolet

  Sad, right? That's why it sat in my yard for another 3 years. It was in such a depressing state that I couldn't even look at it for awhile. I had some help from a real friend replacing the fuel pump and tank a while back, and rerouted the spark plug wires to their correct places on the coil. She still didn't run right, and I gave up. Finally, the no-car situation pushed me to get back to it. I spent last weekend disassembling the top end of the motor to find loose bolts, hoses not connected, plugs left unplugged, and a bunch of trash that never got flushed out of the engine. She runs now. It was a scary ride there on bad tires, but it was good to take her up town to get some "new shoes" and hear her running normally again. I just had to wait for the delivery of my tag-lights (also broken from the ATV-pushing) to make her completely street-worthy again, and now I can concentrate on the cosmetic fixes.

My truck, S10, Chevrolet

  But, working on it led me to another let-down: When I dove into the good ol' times of grease and oil again, I realized how much I missed it. It was hard, dirty work to do, but I liked doing it. I love getting into the guts of things to see how it works; how it breaks; how it needs to be fixed. Crocheting may still exercise my brain with numbers and shapes, but there's just no moving parts or power to it. I found myself considering getting back into my old career again.

  But by the end of the day, I was facing the truth. My hands became so stiff I was dropping everything, and Rip had to help with the things that took more muscle to complete. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely move. With RA in remission, I thought I could do it. The truck may be done, but working on it was a sad reminder that it's not possible for me to spend a day under the hood, let alone the rest of my life. And my specialty, building transmissions, takes a combination of nimble fingers and strength that I no longer have.

  The thing I picked up for therapy will continue to be my new career. This yarn-y, colorful world I've found myself in is so opposite from the grease, gears and metal I knew and loved. But, the people are nicer here and I don't have to prove I know what I'm doing to every man that visits the blog. Plus, I can blast heavy metal any time I want because there's no customers to complain about it. I think it's a trade I'm willing to make. I can still be happy with my choice. 😊

crochet, scarf, pattern, for-sale, free gift, Caron Simply Soft

Happy Crocheting!

PS - Just like with my old job, I'm pretty good at crochet... But sometimes, I still need a little help. For those of you who missed out on the first opportunity, I'm extending my offer to be gifted this pattern on Ravelry. This scarf needs a name! Leave a suggestion in the comments (and your Ravelry name if anonymous), and you'll receive this pattern for free once it's uploaded.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

PPS - Just to keep everyone updated, there will be another slight delay in getting that pattern ready. I took the truck on a long run today and lost oil pressure on the way home. I'm hoping it's just a plugged filter after the "mechanic" didn't flush all the gunk out... But I'll be spending the morning checking that out instead of working on the pattern. (It's still coming soon!)

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PPP... Oh, let's just call it another update, okay? After it looked like I'd be finishing soon, I caught another cold. I'm getting better already, but still trying to rest and recover completely. I may not be online much to respond to your ideas, however...

While I'm on the mend, the opportunity to get this pattern for free is still open to all who comment on this post. (So, tell your crochet-friends!) Sick-brain isn't helping me make a decision on a name any more than it's helping finish the PDF. I stared at the pictures for awhile and decided the lace looked like eyeballs. Then I thought it looked like alien eyeballs. After that, I saw skeletons in the middle of the design. And for the last thought that struck me before I gave up, it turned into a dragon's tail. With the fever, I'm lucky it didn't sprout wings and fly away. πŸ˜„ 

Have fun with your suggestions, because I'm sure not having any luck! But, by the way, I managed to make two more of these in other colors before I caught this cold. They'll be for sale... I won't say "soon". We should know better than that by now, because this happens every time I use that word.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Secrets are Out

  My friends, I must apologize... I come here tonight to complain and work my thoughts out. If you're not interested in yesterday's drama, then I invite you to look at the pretty pictures of my close-but-still-not-finished project (plus a kitty pic) and move on. It's okay to share my super-secret project in full now, because The Kid caught a sneak peek when I forgot to put it away in an emergency. Allow me to reveal it in a fashion less dramatic and suspenseful than my day went:

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn

  The opening scene - Rip van Winkle had another wonderful 3 a.m. job, so we're exhausted to begin with. Coffee is the drink of the day. I got to spend the morning disinfecting the house (Rip is still fighting that infection) so my dad could drop The Boy off. I got a few stitches worked on my project in between loads of laundry. The plan: Have a nice day with The Boy until Rip gets home, then I'll take him back to Dad's house after dinner.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn

  Dinner scene - Pizza, delivered. It's been a long day. The pizza had half the toppings melted off into the side of the box. It was also cold. No more stitches got done on the project. Instead, it sat moved into the corner so we could eat our less-than-good dinner. Rip promptly fell asleep at the table, and I got ready to leave with The Boy.

  Transportation scene - Rip woke up and insisted that I can't drive my own car again. I waited for him to get ready. He starts the car, and the first thing I ask is "what's wrong with the car?"... It's running awfully rough. He notices nothing different until he puts it in gear and: SLAM! No. No, no, no, no, no, no NO! Okay, go drive it and see what it does so I can figure this out...

  We made it down the driveway and to the stop sign. The car stalled. Go home. I know this problem. Just go home, because we won't make it to the next town. This is the thing I used to do for a living, my other forte, and the thing I've fixed twice on this car. Check the transmission fluid... Full of metal shavings. πŸ˜’

  The call to Dad - He came to get The Boy, and I forgot to put the super-secret project away. When The Kid came in and saw it, she automatically gasped and turned away because she knew it was supposed to be a secret. (Good kid.) But now that secret is out, so I let her get a look at it instead of stashing it away. She thinks it's "absolutely beautiful", and understands that the finished project isn't going to look exactly like what she sees here... So, it can still be a little bit of a secret until it's done.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn

  A long, angry message to a car company about something that's no secret - Ford, I hate your designs and your "hardened" pump shaft replacement that doesn't make the crappy transmission you put in the Taurus ANY better! The unit is too light-duty for the weight of the car, and that's only part of why this continues to happen every 4-6 years or 100,000 miles. It still moves, so I know the hub on the torque converter isn't stripped out again - Yet. But it would be if I could keep driving it, Ford. It would be. And my transmission would puke out all its fluid, leaving me completely stranded for the THIRD time. I rebuilt that transmission twice. You know the only thing that was wrong with it - twice? The pump shaft. A whole rebuild for your stupid, crappy, too-small-diameter pump shaft that needs a whole PUMP redesign, not just a hardened shaft. And let's not forget that you made it SOOOOOOO easy to get the unit out of the car to begin with... Dropping the frame isn't easy when you're just over 100 lbs. Frankly, Ford, I think the replacement part you insisted would be fine in the recall notice SUCKS. Take that hardened pump shaft and...

  Never mind. I shouldn't threaten that because I want you to keep listening, not chase you away... Ford, I also think it sucks that you blame this problem on ME when I complain. Is it my driving? No. (Well, it would be Rip's driving, not mine...) Is it the age or the mileage on the car? No! It's because I rebuilt the transmission in my own car instead of having it done by a "qualified" mechanic. But, um... Hey, Ford? I'm not a femi-nazi, but I hate the way your "techs" talk to me like I'm an idiot. Just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I wasn't qualified, and it's not illegal for a mechanic to work on her own vehicle in a certified shop, is it? How many times do I need to be asked if I knew what I was doing? My favorite transmission to build is an old one, but a good one even when it's just stock-built. I loved upgrading the 700R4's with full-race shift kits; drill out the valve body and change out the plate; install Koleen steels and Redline clutches. I've changed out pumps, drums, and clutch sets to convert them to three- and two- speed 350's (something a Ford tech once told me couldn't be done); upgraded to truly hardened, race-grade shafts. (My god, it was a beautiful monster when I was done.) They went down the strip in a blaze of glory again and again, standing behind the amazing torque and power of 500+hp. Oh, but wait - They were all in a Chevy but one... That was in a home-built swamp buggy. I've fixed everything I've ever owned on my own, built and rebuilt everything from race cars to minivans, and never had a complaint from a customer or left myself broken down. Ford, the first replacement "hardened" pump shaft I put in this car made it 600 miles before stripping out again. Your design just SUCKS, but you don't want to admit it. If you can't redesign the pump, then try figuring out what causes the feed hole to the shaft to get plugged up. The lack of fluid causes the shaft to overheat, and the small diameter allows the metal to weaken quickly under the high temps.

  Oh, and on a slightly related subject: You kinda did the same sort of thing when you changed from the E4OD's to the 4R100's and put a weaker-duty torque converter behind a heavy-duty diesel. Your customers shouldn't have to upgrade to a $600-$900 converter just because they tow with a heavy-duty truck. It's a heavy-duty truck. It should already hold up to towing.

But hey, I'm just a girl that had to stand on a box to build the bottom-end of those beasts... What do I know? All I do is play with yarn and make pretty things. πŸ˜„

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn

  The decision - I no longer have access to a shop, a lift, or all the tools I need to do another rebuild. None of that matters because I'm sending Rip to go trade this hunk of junk in (if it will make it). While he's not here to repeatedly ask if I know what I'm doing, I'll be draining the milkshake out of my sabotaged truck. And yes, I said sabotaged. I've been asking questions, and somebody let slip another secret that proves my suspicion... The person I had trusted to fix my truck did indeed "destroy" it on purpose. But I don't need no stinkin' special tools to fix my Chevy. Now that I know exactly what he did, I know I can fix it. You gotta love big mouths when they're not talking about you. Sometimes my life is like a bad soap opera without the romance.

  I'm tired of not having a vehicle to drive even though I own two vehicles. So, there will be no more stitching this weekend. I'll be spending the next few days in my old elements of grease, dirt and metal. There will be no yarn play until it's done. Wondering over and over, "what are we going to do when we live ten-plus miles from town and now have no vehicle?", I think I lost my mind for awhile today. It's okay, I had some more coffee and I found it again. I'm not helpless, and my hands aren't as bad as they were when I was forced to end my career. I will fix it. And when I can wash the grease from under my nails and get back to stitching, The Kid and I can take a ride in the ol' Chevy to get a celebratory coffee while she wears her awesomely beautiful duster - A knee-length duster with a split tail, just like she wanted.
...After I get good pictures, of course. This pattern will be for-sale only, because I have no choice.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn

  The other secret that's out - If you're not affected by Google's latest algorithm change, then maybe you're not pulling your hair out trying to figure out what to do now that you have no income. It's the reason I was already on the edge of crazy before the car took it's last shuddering breath. And that's why I needed to spew a ton of nonsense onto this page. Come with me, friends, and imagine the internet of this new algorithm...

  An internet where a computer decides that good information isn't as important as frequency. An internet where content creators are rewarded for uploading more often. Do you know what that means? A lot of thin-content webpages spit out by people that no longer have time to sleep because they have to continuously create more and more to keep their earnings up. I could put up a new picture of a pile of dog poo every day, and Google wouldn't care as long as I keep uploading more. Dog poo is exactly what the internet will be full of if this continues. Subscribers, views, shares... None of it matters as much as pushing out the next thing.

  But no, I won't play along with that. I will write what I want, when I want; and upload as many videos as my patience can tolerate. They will all be things that matter to me. Maybe it's silly, or sad, or an angry rant to a car company... Perhaps it's not all educational or informative. At least I can say that none of it has ever been pushed out for the sake of making money. That's just something I hope happens on the side.

  How you can help - No, I'm not going to beg for donations or ask you to subscribe. Asking for clicks on ads is not allowed, and they wouldn't make me any money now, anyway. But I can ask one thing: And I'm not even talking about just helping me. For the love of all webpages you appreciate and good-content creators, please turn off your ad blocker if you use one. (You can keep it on for the ones you don't like. πŸ˜‰) Seriously, you can really let the creator know you love them by (maybe) helping them earn another fraction of a penny.

  And as for me - There's just no other solution in sight at this time. I have to spend more time creating for-sale patterns, and stop providing so many for free. I don't mind sharing my designs when the blog helps pay for the yarn that goes into the projects. But when my "job" stops paying anything, I have to find a new way to help support my habit along with my household. I don't understand the reason algorithm changes have to happen any more than I can get why Ford insists on putting half-baked designs in their vehicles. I just know that both leave me broke and they SUCK. 

Happy Crocheting!

PS- Does Google's decision-making computer understand how hard bloggers have to work to make a penny? I mean, c'mon! You think it's all yarn and flowers with a nice hot cup of coffee around here? No! There's dirty kitchens in the background and cats on our feet during photo shoots while the coffee gets cold in the microwave again:

cats, crochet, blogging, photos, kitty pics

It's like, worse than a "real" job. Everybody thinks you can take off all the time you want and we have to clean the bathrooms ourselves. 

(Thanks for listening.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Decisions, Buttons, and Gender Neutrality

  I'm still working on that super-secret project that I shared a while back (hint: It's the purple one)... It would be done if not for a small mistake on my part. But before we go into that little problem, let's see what just happened to jump into my arms yesterday at the craft store:

crafts, crochet, yarn, buttons, WIP, Simply Soft

  Okay, not the buttons; they were the only reason I was there! With the help of The Kid, we found the right toggle buttons for the project. That's all we needed. Then, we went exploring in the yarn section. (The Kid has never been to out-of-town Joann's, so of course I had to show her where it was.)

  It's not like I need more yarn, but I have to find the right one for the project I asked for your opinions on. I've been undecided for awhile, and your perspectives helped me get closer to my conclusion: It has to be a solid color. But what color? What yarn? Many of you noted that the design has a Celtic knot vibe. This helped me decide that the project should be made in a green, blue, or bluish-green, keeping it close to the tones in the multicolored yarn I used.

  But the thing I've been fighting: It was also suggested to use a lighter weight yarn. I do think that wold be a good idea, but it will also reduce the size of the project... Something I already had worked out and I don't feel like re-working it. So, I made the next-best decision: Keep it worsted-weight, but find a softer, more drape-y yarn. Simply Soft to the rescue!

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Pagoda

  But here, I ran into another roadblock. The color Pagoda above seems like a great choice; it's a little bit blue and green. Sorry, it mostly wants to look blue in the pictures. (I know it's not my screen settings, because it looks that way on camera.) I'm quite partial to darker tones, so I was leaning towards picking this one at first... But maybe such a bold design deserves a bright color?

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Cool Green

  So I picked up this Cool Green, too. Again, I'm getting something wrong with lighting or settings, because that "green" is a lot more like teal in my eyes. Think: Bright peacock. It's bright. Really bright. I think Joann's has some sort of trick lighting that makes you like yarn colors more when they're in the store. It looks gross in my lighting.

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Soft Green

  And just to be safe, we need to a nice, gentle, soft color into this mix of bold and bright potential choices. Please keep in mind: This heavy-metal loving crocheter likes dark colors. I come from the darkness to live in the darkness and become the darkness. My darkness will eat your darkness to become darker. That said: I'm picking the lighter color.

crafts, crochet, buttons, coat, WIP,

  Now, let's get back to the whole reason I made Dad stop by the craft store: Because the Michaels here doesn't have toggle (or any?) buttons. I had ordered some online, but they're not here yet. I'm ready to finish the project and I'm tired of waiting! Surely they'll be here tomorrow now that I've made another purchase.

  Last night was supposed to finish the project, but it ended in a mistake that I hate. I have to rip out the final part that made the buttonhole loops, just because this garment is for a female. Anybody know why that is?

crochet, WIP, buttons, gender

  I almost want to leave it like it is. I would prefer for clothing to be gender-neutral regarding the side that buttons are on. I find it ridiculous that we've held on to such an antiquated tradition for so long. I get it if you're not comfortable with peeing alongside a man in a gender-neutral bathroom. But does it really matter which way your coat fastens?

  There's many theories on why it's this way: From high-class women being dressed by servants to Napolean not taking a joke. Whatever the reason, I think it would be easier if it just didn't matter what side the buttons are on. But, I fear the person(s) that will notice it. Are you wearing a MAN'S coat? The buttons are on the wrong side! I can hear it now...

So, can you hear that frog? Rip it, rip it, rip it.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, April 7, 2017

As Expected: FAIL!

  Wow, I feel like I'm doing two "fail" posts in a row... Only, this one really is a fail, and that last one was just for tips. πŸ˜€ I shared a sneak peek at this project a few weeks ago, but I think I was complaining more about the weather than sharing the project. (The weather finally warmed up to 90°F before turning chilly again yesterday. Thanks, Florida.) I got my chance to "fmelt" my plarn project. I didn't expect it to go perfectly. I didn't think it would fail this badly, either.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  To explain if you missed it: The plan was to make paper plate holders. And ugh, this is SO much work! First, you make the material (cutting up plastic bags). Then, you crochet the project. And finally, you get out the iron and turn it into hardened plastic. That's why I figured I'd use my not-a-mistake design to test the material instead of frogging it and making more work for myself. I thought if this didn't come out well, I could always flatten it out and use it as a trivet. But, no. All I got was a big, fat FAIL.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  Melting through the plastic is something I usually do right at the beginning, when the iron is set too high. This time, I took my time before I destroyed my work. πŸ˜‰ With an old wooden plate holder for a form and parchment paper to keep melted plastic off my iron, I got to work "fmelting". One minute... Two minutes... Five minutes... The plastic still wasn't hardening. I set the temperature up. To make a long story shorter, I ended up cranking the heat all the way up after 20 minutes and still-floppy plastic. What refused to harden up before suddenly melted through.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  But wait! It gets even better... (That's sarcasm there.) Even though part of the project melted through, other parts of it still wouldn't harden up! Especially around the most important part: The curve that's needed for the shape of a plate holder. The middle of the flat circle did fmelt pretty well. When it came to creating the shape I thought I could make just by melting... Nope, it's not gonna happen this time.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  The flat sides of that pentagon-turned-circle started showing badly the more I tried to melt and shape. Parts overlapped the form, and others shrank back from the edge. I saw it happening before that melt-through occurred, and that's why I wasn't worried about ruining it with the high heat. I just wanted to test out the temperature I would need for the following projects.

  It might be a big fail, but it was a learning experience. See - I have this all figured out already. πŸ˜€ I've fmelted plarn thicker than this before. Why won't this harden up? There's nothing wrong with my iron, is there? (Yes, I burned my finger when I checked the iron for a malfunction. I'll never learn.) And why can't I get it to hold it's shape?

  It's either because of the form or the paper. For other fmelted projects, I've used something metal or covered the form in aluminum foil. I jumped into this project with a bare-bones form that might be letting the heat escape. I've also changed part of the method by using parchment paper. I used waxed paper before, but it leaves residue on my iron.

  So now the question is: Do I really want to continue with this project? It needs a lot of changes before it will be successful. What did fmelt proves this material is way too thin for its purpose. Although hardened, it isn't very strong. The material will have to be thicker and the shape has to change. Plus, the curved shape will have to be made through crochet and not by melting. And if parchment paper is part of the problem, then I'll have to use that waxed paper and be forced to scrub the gunk off my iron again.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  Now that I've figured out the problem(s), I just have to try again... I'm just not so sure I want to. This is a time-consuming process, and paper plate holders can be bought in sets of eight for $2. I made some extra material ahead of time, but now I know I can't use it for this. Perhaps my time could be better spent turning that material into something a little more successful and practical? Let's not forget the work of cleaning the iron... Okay, all thoughts of future attempts have now been abandoned.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Metal Mishaps

  For those who love the story behind a design: Oh wow, do I have a tale for you! If you've already been to this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, then you might think I whipped up my project the night before... After all, it's just a simple one-round square, right? How hard could it be?

  Right. And that's what I originally thought when I started the project a month before the challenge. The road to this successful design was a bumpy one with lots of twists, and I think I got lost a few times along the way. But now that I've conquered the route, it should be easier for everyone else to pass. All you have to do is follow my directions to get there... But what if you want to blaze your own trail to a new place?

Here's where I'll stop speaking in metaphors and just tell you all the "fun" I had crocheting with metal.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I'll show you my secret weapon first, although you don't have to have one of these to crochet with metal wire. Once I finally found the right hook size for the material (that's a long story in itself), I knew I had to try one of my antique hooks. Most people may have thrown this bent hook out, but I always knew I'd use it for something! I have a bad habit of keeping my loops low and tight, but the angle of this hook's head forced me to pull them up nice and high like they need to be.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I've always wondered how that hook got that way and who did it, but I suppose I'll never know. Anyway... Are you the same kind of tight-loop crocheter as me? If so, then you'll find crocheting with metal harder to do. No matter how many times I changed hooks, my work kept curling towards me. It took a few tries to realize that it wasn't all because of the hook size. Pulling the first loop of the stitch up higher let it fall back into the work instead of being pulled tight against the base. 

  Pulling the loops tight also causes twists and kinks in the wire, and that's part of what caused the curling. It was mostly because of my hook size at first. Wouldn't you think you'd need a small hook for something so thin? Right, but... See that explanation above. The small hook caused the wire to kink up as soon as you "yarn" over with it. No matter how many different designs and stitch counts I worked out, they were all curly messes.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  What a shame. I really liked the look of the two-round designs I created, but they would be too big to use for (my) jewelry if made with a large hook. Don't get me wrong - I think it would be cool to make something big and bold, like 70's style. But let's be honest: When it comes to earrings, anything over an inch just gets stuck in my hair! The goal here was to keep it small, simple, and delicate. And not stuck in my hair.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I began trying to make these motifs with a 1.50 mm steel hook, working my way up to the size 3 you see above. (A US size 3 should be 2.10 mm, but this old hook doesn't match.) By the time I worked out that square, I had figured out the problem with my tension. But why is it still curling? Hmm... Metal is bendy. I should be able to just "block" it out flat, right? Just give it a stretch into place and it will stay... Nope, didn't work. 

  When you think you've figured it all out, this material changes its personality. The wire stays kinked when you work it up on a too-small hook, but you can't bend it into place to block it flat! This is one of those "Arg, are you kidding me" moments. Yes, it stays kinked if sharply bent. But the loose loops required for a flat project turn it into a springy material that bounces back into shape.

  This all leads us to another problem: The material itself. I didn't have much of that silver wire left, so I didn't want to keep practicing with it. There's another roll of "gold" in my supplies that I'm not happy with. It's much too yellow in my eyes. Why not ruin it while trying to get this right? And ruin it is exactly what I did.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  This is not gold! It's just yellow-coated wire. It's not like I thought I was getting a roll of real gold for a few dollars. I just never thought the coating would start coming off every time I ripped my stitches back to try again. (And yes, the "silver" is also plastic-coated wire.) This isn't like crocheting with yarn or even plarn, where you can rip back and try again. Each time you do, it damages the wire more and more. 

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  It's "get it right" or "get more material". By the time I made the square above, I was ready to give up. I was destroying material, my hands, and my confidence. It was so close to being flat! I stretched, and pulled, bent and smashed, and repeated. None of it helped. It just can't be blocked. But give up? NO! Not me! Well, if you can't make a tiny motif with a small hook, then I guess it's time to make shorter stitches to achieve the size with a bigger hook.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

 Ta da! And stubborn, stubborn me did make a bigger motif with those tall, lacy double crochet stitches. I suppose I could have included it as part of my project for the Granny-Spiration Challenge, but at the time it looked so plain without the bead. Reviewing my pictures, I think it might make a cute, simple pendant on its own. Maybe add a bead on an eye pin.  

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  Sure I accomplished the design I wanted, but will I ever wear it? Turned diagonally, the pendant will be over 2" across. That's a bit large for my taste in accessories and it's way too big for earrings. But for somebody else? Maybe you like it. My point is, the material poses it's fair share of limitations in what you can make and how it can be made. A smaller gauge wire would work better on a small hook, but this is already really thin!   

  None of this has been said to discourage you from trying your own metal project. I hope it can steer you in the right direction, closer to where you need to start. It's not the kind of project that you can jump into and rip back if it's not perfect. You can score metal beading wire for really cheap if you catch a sale or use coupons, so it's not like you're destroying a $30 skein of handspun silk if you make a mistake. For me, I just hate wasting any material, ever. Except for that ugly yellow "gold". I threw the aftermath of my practice in the trash without thinking twice.

Happy Crocheting!  

PS- If you missed this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, be sure to stop by to check out my project and see what everyone else is making, too!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Delicate Granny Earrings - GrannySpiration Challenge

  It's time for April's Granny-Spiration Challenge! I'll be writing a post soon to explain why my project for this month was more of a challenge than I thought it would be... For now, I'll just share the pattern instructions and then we can get to the linkup and giveaway!

  I've had some jewelry wire sitting in my craft supplies for years now. Since I don't see myself getting back into serious jewelry-making any time soon, why not crochet with it? Oh, but wait... Since it ended up being turned into some pretty earrings, does that mean I'm back into jewelry-making now? πŸ˜‰ What a conundrum. Shall we just get to the pattern?

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, linkup, link party, giveaway

  Each of these delicate wire squares measures only 1" (2.5 cm) across. With the squares turned diagonally and the findings attached, the size of the finished earring is 1.5" (3.8 cm) wide and 2" (5 cm) long.

Skill level:

Bead stringing wire
*This should be .012 in/ 0.30 mm wire. The sticker labels fell off the plastic rolls years ago, so I'm sorry if I'm wrong. But I'm pretty sure I'm right, because that's the only size I ever bought... Unless I scored something else on clearance and forgot about it.
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 mm
Smaller hook for weaving in ends (I found it impossible to do on a needle)
Beads (optional) - I used one 8 mm cracked-glass bead for each earring
6 mm jump rings (2 for each earring)
Fish hook earring findings
*You may need additional findings or jewelry-making supplies, like pliers. (I keep it simple and use my fingers to work the jump rings.)

Not important to match size; just important to avoid curling. (See notes)

Chain 1 at beginning of round does not count as a stitch.

Use any hook size you need to avoid curling. If your stitches lean forward towards you as you work, you need to go up a hook size (or more). You'll see it happen with just the first few stitches made.

The beginning of this pattern was the hardest to work (for me). If you find it too difficult, you could:

  • Begin without the bead and work the stitches into a regular joined ring - Then add the bead with some extra wire or an eye pin. The results won't be exactly the same, but you'll have less frustration.
  • Try starting with the bead on a slipknot. Join the ring in the chain past the bead. Doing it this way will cause the bead to fall into the middle of the ring, but it eliminates the option to turn your square to make it look best.
Try to avoid making kinks in the wire by pulling your loops up nice and high - No pulling them tight against the hook! Leave some slack in your loops to avoid kinks that will cause twisting.

Single crochet
Slip Stitch


Beginning with the bead:
This is the one place I had to make a kink in the wire. I tried to run the wire through in one strand and then pull the tail back through the bead, but mine kept catching inside the bead hole. (Perhaps you'll have better luck?) I folded the wire in half so I could pull the loop out from the other end of the bead.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, instructions, tutorial

Make sure the working end of the wire comes from the back and over the front of the hook when you begin! Chain 6. Leave a good amount of slack in the loop around the bead before making the first chain. Like - Enough to fit your hook under, because you'll work into it soon.
(Can you see how some of the wire is kinked? It doesn't make pretty stitches, but this was just the beginning chain, so I didn't worry about it.)

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, tutorial,

Here's the tricky part... Bring the bead around so that the beginning loop is on top. (It's the wire running over the bead in the photo.) AND make sure the tail of the wire is right there with it, because you're going to work over both strands.

Insert the hook in the beginning loop, catching the tail with it. Make a slip stitch to join into a ring.
*This will create two halves for the beginning ring. The first half is made of the beginning loop and tail, and the second half is the chain-6.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, tutorial

The first and only round:
Chain 1 (does not count as stitch).
(5 single crochet, chain 2) 2x in the first half of the ring (over the tail and beginning loop).

Working into the second half (the chain-6 ring), make (5 single crochet, chain 2) 2x.

Bind off (gently, without tightening the ending stitch). Pull the tail through the beginning single crochet from back to front; and then back through the beginning stitch from the top down.

Weave in the ends around the beginning rings.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017

WOW! You would think such a short pattern would be easy... And it can be, once you're used to crocheting with wire. If you are a beginner with the material, don't get discouraged. It's springy, twisty, and downright frustrating until you get the hang of it. Just remember: NICE. BIG. LOOPS -Lots and lots of slack.

To finish:
Attach a fish hook earring and two jump rings together and add them to a corner chain-2 space.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017

Granny's gone metal! πŸ˜πŸ’€πŸ’Ž
(Happy Crocheting.)

Be sure to check out the creations of everyone participating in the Granny-Spiration Challenge:

And now, on to the GIVEAWAY!
April's giveaway is sponsored by EyeLoveKnots. One winner will receive two skeins of Baby Bee's Sweet Delight Yarn in the color Splash.

crochet, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, giveaway, Baby Bee Sweet Delight Yarn

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The top views from the March Challenge:

Lacy Granny Square Cross Square from Creative Crochet Workshop:

Ruffle Crochet Scarf from Anabelia Handmade:

Joining Granny Squares from Loes Hobbies: 

Thanks for sharing your projects!

Link Up:
New Granny-Spiration Projects will be shared from your hosts the first Saturday of each month. Post times will vary. You will be able to link up from 12:00am EST on the first Saturday of the month, through 12:00pm EST on the second Thursday from the start date - specific dates are on top of the Rafflecopter form - giving you almost two weeks to link up and enter the giveaway!

Please share projects that are family friendly, and GRANNY INSPIRED through use of regular granny square or solid granny square, granny stitch pattern or other afghan square in the form of a free pattern, pattern review, or inspiration piece. Not limited to crochet or knit.

Please make sure to link to your post, and not your home page.

*If you don't have a blog, you can still share with us by creating a Free Flickr Account - powered by Yahoo. Add your projects there, and then come back here with the link for the project.

*Link ups cannot be to Etsy listings or Ravelry pages where patterns are sold. You can link to blog posts, Flickr or Facebook pages, Pins, etc that are directed towards it, but can't directly link to it.
To be clearer though, Raverly pages of finished projects are okay to share. Sorry for the inconvenience! That's per InLinkz guidelines. Thanks!