Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Never Make Important Changes When Tired

  About five minutes ago, I was playing around with different blog themes after changing my text size. I've been meaning to increase the size of the text because I've received a few (friendly) requests. I'm more than happy to help you out with that... Once I remember how to do it! It all came back, but there's one big rule I forgot about: Never make important changes when TIRED.

crochet, Crochet is the Way, blog, blogging, web design, background

  So, I got distracted while I was playing with the colors of the text (of which I was only supposed to change size), and I selected some different themes to see what would come up for suggested colors... I think it's pretty cool how you can load a picture (or pick a theme) and Blogger will help you out with what will look good...

  But I don't think it's cool that there's no "undo" button! I went back to reload my background picture when I was done playing, but it wasn't there. Since I still had a page open with the old background, I took a screenshot in order to copy the picture from there. (That file can be found two-un-backed-up computers ago.) With the picture cut off on both sides, there's no real hope of going back to fix it - It will never be the same.

  I just hope you're happy! 😉 I started this blog back in 2012, and I've never changed the background for spiteful reasons... I received a lot of complaints in my first year, but none of them were like the friendly requests for larger text. They were hateful, rude comments, calling my background "ugly", telling me I'll never be successful, and other negative things that I've since forgotten through my stubborn determination to never change just because of what someone else says.

crochet, Crochet is the Way, blog, blogging, web design, background

  If only I could have been hard-headed enough to stop myself... "Just a little more work and I'll go to bed" I said at 9 o'clock in the morning as I published a new pattern and video... "Let me get to that text thing, first" I bargained at noon... "Hey, I wonder how it would look in this color" I thought about 45 minutes ago... And now instead of fighting to recover my background, I've decided to let go of the hate, stubbornness, and spite. Others shouldn't have to suffer just because of a few negative people. Maybe I'm just a little too tired, but I'm thinking the rest of the world could really use that advice right now.

  Besides, I've been punishing myself as well. I always hated that background, too. But not because of the colors. It was due to the one thing that nobody ever did complain about... Those stitches were wrong-side-up. HA! I'm going to try to get a few hours of sleep now. Let's hope I actually do it before I accidentally delete the whole blog.

Happy Crocheting!

Not-So-Mesh Scarf

crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

  If you've ever bought a fluffy, textured yarn and found it difficult to work with, then you've found the perfect pattern to use it on! Can you believe there's open mesh stitch in all of that of super-bulky yarn? When I unearthed three skeins of Country Loom yarn from my stash, the memories flooded back... Bought when I was a beginner, I found it extremely frustrating to work with this fuzzy yarn. (Read the rest of that story along with my review of Country Loom.) Even though my skills have advanced since then, there's times I still prefer "easy" over a challenge... So I set my mind to designing a pattern that might make it possible for a beginner to tackle with this yarn.

  You can choose to work in short rows for a more textured, scalloped edge, or start with the length of the scarf for a straight-edge, ribbed design. This stitch pattern is simple to follow with a one-row repeat, and you only have to work directly into a stitch one single time to begin the project. The rest is all easily worked into chain spaces!


  This scarf works up super-quick using super-bulky yarn, and a large P - 10 mm hook helps it go even faster. If you're a speedy crocheter and you catch on to the pattern quickly, you just might find yourself done in an hour like I was!.. In case you need a little help with your project, there's a photo tutorial included after the pattern and stitch diagram... Or, you can click here for a video tutorial.

Finished size:
Both versions shown are 60" (152 cm) long and 4" (10 cm) wide.
Total yarn weight: 4 oz. / 113 g.

Skill level:
Easy

Materials:
Super-bulky weight (6) acrylic yarn
I used Country Loom by Loops & Threads in the color Merlot, which seems to be a discontinued colorway. Similar colors (currently) available are Kiss Me or Tapestry.
Crochet hook size P - 10 mm
Stitch markers
Yarn needle

crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn


Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
7 rows of 4 multiples

Notes:
Multiple for pattern stitch is 2 + 1.

Pattern uses a "ladder" of stitches to take the place of the beginning chain. This counts as row 1.

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

Half double crochet at end of rows counts as (chain 1, single crochet).

Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Half double crochet
Single crochet

Instructions:


chart, crochet, Country Loom, easy, fast, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, size P hook, stitch diagram, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn
Check out the video tutorial starting around 9:00 to see why this pattern changes so much just by working different directions. The amount of stretch might affect which version you want to create.

Row 1:
Chain 2. Half double crochet in the farthest chain from the hook.
*Chain 2. Half double crochet in the space between the previous chain-2 and half double crochet.*
Repeat from * to * for desired length or width...
For short-row version, work 4 multiples across.
For long-row version, work 60 multiples or to a length of 60".

Row 2:
Working into the half-double-crochet side of the first row... Chain 1, single crochet in the first available space.
(Chain 1, single crochet in the next space) to end of row*... You will have one less chain space in the row once you've worked into the last space.
*3x for short rows; 59x for long rows.
Half double crochet in the last same space as the last single crochet made (counts as chain-1, single crochet).
Short row: 4 chain-1 spaces / Long row: 60 chain-1 spaces.

Row 3:
Chain 1, turn. Single crochet in the first chain-1 space.
(Chain 1, single crochet in the next chain-1 space) to the end of the row.
Half double crochet in the same as last single crochet made.

Repeat Row 3 for each additional row.
7 rows total for long-row version; short-row version worked to length (60") without counting.

Bind off; weave in ends.

Stitch Diagram:
Click on the chart below to enlarge image.


chart, crochet, Country Loom, easy, fast, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, size P hook, stitch diagram, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

chart, crochet, Country Loom, easy, fast, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, size P hook, stitch diagram, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn


Photo tutorial:
Chain 2, yarn over for a half double crochet:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Insert hook in the first chain/farthest from hook:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook)...
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Yarn over, pull through all three loops:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Chain 2, yarn over for a half double crochet:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Insert hook between the previous chain-2 and half double crochet:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Complete the stitch for a half double crochet:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

(Chain 2, half double crochet in the space below) to desired length or width:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Single crochet in the first available space:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Chain 1, single crochet in the next space:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

(Chain 1, single crochet in the next space) to the end of the row:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Half double crochet in the same as last:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Chain 1, turn, single crochet in the first space:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn

Follow the previous steps for each row. Mark beginning/end spaces of rows:
crochet, Country Loom, easy, free pattern, lace, Loops & Threads, mesh, scarf, super-bulky, tutorial, video, yarn


Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rethinking

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  I've shared a few sneak peeks at this work-in-progress before, but it hasn't been out of the WIP pile in a long time. It advanced quickly at first, but then hit a minor roadblock... I misplaced the next sheet I was going to cut up for the project! After searching a few places I thought it would be and not finding it, I began to wonder if it didn't accidentally get discarded along with a bunch of scrap fabric I recently threw out. After much seeking and no finding, I made the decision to cut up a different sheet so I could continue with the project.

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  This sheet was similar to the neutral tan and cream that was already used, but it has spots of color from a flower design... The faded flowers used to be burgundy, but now they're a washed-out pinkish-purple. Once the fabric was cut into strips, the green of the leaves was barely visible. Above, you can see what the material looks like once worked up. Below, perhaps you can notice that the pops of color were more pronounced in the fabric strips before they were crocheted:

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  And the result is... I hate it! Maybe that neutral with its subtle colors can be used somewhere else in the pattern, but using it to join the squares was just... Too plain, for me. I wasn't happy about settling for second-best. (Actually, I was thinking that second-best wasn't good at all.) So the project was neglected in the WIP pile, and was almost downgraded to UFO (unfinished object).

  Knowing that the sheet I use on my couch was becoming threadbare, I thought I had a solution: The bold burgundy could be used to join the squares, then I could use the flower-patterned sheet as a border to compliment the color. But as I searched for that burgundy sheet, I couldn't find it - Argh! Lo and behold... What did I find? Of course, it was the sheet I had been searching for all along:

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  Now, I know I've been admitting that I've become disorganized, but I'm totally blaming this one on The Troll. It's another one of those cases where the thing I'm looking for isn't where it should be, then after giving up it shows up in a place I've already looked. That's a disappearing act, not disorganization!

  But to put the blame-game aside, I had run into a new problem when I found the missing sheet: I didn't really like that color with the neutrals, either. So, I did one good and one bad thing... 1) I went through all of my sheets, sorting out the ones that are threadbare, have holes, or the ones that don't fit my bed after having to downsize. (Why do I still have those?) That was the good thing - It needed to be done. My sheets were sorted and my decision was made... And then 2) I asked Rip van Winkle for his opinion... And the project stopped all over again.

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  I really enjoy the idea of cutting up the sheet above, because I've never liked the pattern. I like the thought of how the colors might look once cut up, but never as a sheet set. Then Rip van Winkle says... "NO". He doesn't think it matches the neutrals, but I thought the specks of pink and purple might match with the material I had already cut from the flower-patterned sheet. Well, I'm the creator, so I don't always have to listen to his opinion. Do I? Nonetheless, I continued comparing colors from other sheets.

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  We both agreed that the medium-blue of the sheet above didn't look bad with the existing material, and there's a chance it will open up the color palette for that dark blue to fit in again. It's also less threadbare than the previous sheet, which might be so bad that it belongs in the trash... Or cut into rags, at least.

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  And the same goes for that already-cut material... The sheet was so worn out that I could see right through it when I held it up! So, the whole situation leaves me thinking that I should discard the older material and rethink the color scheme of the project. The medium-blue sheet's fabric is still good, but long ago the dog put a few holes in it when it was on the couch. The darker blue sheet is from a queen-size set that doesn't fit the bed, but its material is in almost-new condition... I had put the set aside after only a few uses because the seams on the flat sheet had come loose.

  Which leads me to another thing to ponder... Where in the world is the flat sheet for that set? I've gone through all of them now, and still can't find it. That troll has been wreaking havoc around here since my stove has been broken... I guess he's upset that I haven't made cookies in awhile, but you can't bake much with a hotplate and a toaster oven.

coordinating colors, crochet, fabric scrap, granny squares, recycle, rug, sheets, WIP, work in progress

  Hey - Perhaps I can get rid of this problem once and for all. Ripping back that threadbare sheet sure made a big mess! Since I now have to clean all the white threads from my black rug, maybe there a chance I can find that little *ahem* and suck him up in the vacuum cleaner...

  Joking aside, I think it may be a good decision to discard the already-made material and start over with the better sheets. The other two that were already used weren't threadbare, and my joining material isn't exactly matching the gauge of the squares. I might complain about The Troll at times, but I think he did me a favor on this one.

So, by stealing the flat sheet of the dark blue set from me, is he telling me to make a smaller rug???
🤔

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Still Running

If you remember the posts "Running Away" and "Running Away Again", then you might know where this is going... If you're new to the subject of this nightmare cone of yarn that won't hold its color, then I encourage you to follow the links to see the original disaster and the previous attempt I made to fix the dye.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  The Cross Burst Granny square washcloths were created from my bleeding cotton cone, and I knew to take pictures before washing them. Now the pattern is finished, and it's time to start another experiment...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  On the left, we have one of the plain granny squares from my previous experiments. That one doesn't look so bad, but its twin was already used in the shower with hot water and soap... And it's fully blue now. The other two squares are the Cross Burst grannies that I'm hoping to fix the dye in. Both of those are unwashed and untreated. In today's test, I'll be using vinegar as the fixative.

  I originally began educating myself about the dyeing process to learn how to handle this situation. During my investigation, I realized that I'm not dyeing yarn (duh). This is a problem with already-dyed fabric bleeding, so I started researching a different subject... And came up with some answers that contradict what some call "tried and true" methods. Here are the sources I've been using for information during these attempts:

How to Set Dye and Stop Dye Bleeding in Clothes - This is where I originally read that salt and vinegar won't stop the color from running. And the gears started turning from there...

Using vinegar or acetic acid for dyeing - This article was extremely helpful in explaining how vinegar works in the dyeing process, as well as providing a ton of science behind which fibers to use it on. (Psst... Cotton isn't one of them!) But, it didn't help much with what to do about bleeding dye.

How to Naturally Colorfast Your Clothes for a Longer Life - Again adding to the controversy, this site claims to have success with a mixture of salt and vinegar. They do say you might see dye in the water, and the previous source might explain why... You're not locking the dye in; the salt just absorbs the excess dye in the water to keep it from running onto other items.

How to get dye to set in clothing? - I found amusement in the back-and-forth answers provided on this social site... Salt; vinegar; neither will work... But the information provided by the poster "Ery" was the most beneficial. This is where I made a decision to stop my research.


bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  So with my knowledge about dyes and fixatives broadened, I set my mind to test the vinegar anyway. I had my doubts that it would work, but I felt like I should still perform the experiment to share the results with you all.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Two things to keep in mind before we begin: 1) I'm using a new light for photos, and I had the settings on my camera set so the photos washed out some (kinda like this dye). Above you can see the item on the left looks slightly bluish, but not that far off from the item on the right. I assure you the difference in more noticeable in person...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  And 2) A reader had commented on one of my previous posts asking about the condition of my water... Pictured above in the bowl is the city water we use for cooking, which is provided for free by the county because of the bad water in the area. The measuring cup contains my tap water... And this is a good day, because sometimes it looks like weak tea. I'm using the city water for the experiments, but the items will eventually be exposed to the well water when used and laundered. (Still a mystery: Could the water explain why the bleeding occurs again after use, is it because of hot water and soap, or is this yarn just hopeless?)

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Time to start the test... First item: 4 cups cold water and 1/2 cup vinegar. Again, I'm keeping the unwashed items in the photo for comparison - The picture above was taken immediately after immersing the item.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Soak time: 1 hour. No change seems visible in the yarn, but the water has a blue tint. I gently removed the item and rinsed it in cold water. (No wringing!)

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Compared to the other two items, this one already looks like the dye ran just as much as the previous experiment with salt. Again, it's not as bad as what originally happened to the untreated yarn... But you can see that the flecks of color aren't as crisp, and the white looks slightly dingy. We'll come back to this item in a moment...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Next experiment: Same concentrations of ingredients, but with hot water this time. I know it's against logic for getting the dye to stick; I just can't help but try. Since these washcloths will be used in hot water, I feel like they should be put to the test.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  And while this next subject soaks in its warm bath, let's go check on the first one... Knowing the dye is likely to run, I'm drying my experiments on white paper towels. It saves any good towels from getting destroyed, and it quickly lets me know whether my test has worked...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Thankfully, this is where I noticed my camera settings were off and I adjusted them. Above you can see the washed-out version where the items all look pretty nice compared to my first disaster... And below you can see that it doesn't matter what my settings are, because there's blue dots on the paper towels:

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  One might ask why I continue these experiments at all. I'm starting to question that as well. But, anyway... The test is already in action. Let's continue even though we can already guess the results.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  I considered leaving the next test to soak for 24 hours, but then noticed that the yarn looked like it had an excess amount of fuzz building around it. Lint from other yarns (and maybe some cat fur) started floating to the top of the water, as if the fibers were beginning to break down and release whatever they contained. I got worried and decided to end the experiment after a little more than an hour.

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  An immediate comparison of the two experiments showed the hot-water item looks more dingy than the first test subject. But - Where the white looks a bit whiter on one, the blue looks a little darker on the other. I only gave it about ten minutes before peeking under the washcloth...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  And again found little blue dots on the paper towels. In my research, I learned about a dye fixative called Retayne that's rumored to work. I briefly considered purchasing some for more experiments...

bleeding, color fast, color running, cotton, crochet, dye, experiment, fabric, fixative, Peaches & Creme, vinegar, washcloth, yarn

  Instead, I think I'm going to end these useless tests. The point was to save the yarn I have, not to spend more money. If a quick fix with kitchen ingredients was possible, I was willing to go through the work. But for the cost of a bottle of that stuff, I could just go buy another cone of yarn (from a different brand) and end this headache.

  Although I'm curious to see if  a commercial fixative would work, I'm getting tired of these chemistry experiments. Part of me wants to apologize for giving up so easily, but somehow I think most of you would agree that it's not worth doubling the cost of this yarn... Especially not when these washcloths will be used by my concrete-covered, truck-driving husband! Rip van Winkle doesn't care what color they are, and I'd rather spend my time working out the pattern for my latest design.

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Re"purr"posed

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  When I was left with extra material after a pattern gone wrong, I re-purposed the plarn (plastic yarn) into a small ball filled with plastic bag scraps. It was an experiment for another idea of mine... I want to crochet a floor pouf or maybe a whole "bean bag" chair entirely of plarn, even using the scrap material for stuffing. 100% plastic. Before starting a large project, I wanted to know how well the all-plastic stuffing would hold up to use. I planned to use this mini-experimental version as a stress ball for now...

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  However, it seems to have been re"purr"posed... Jump Steady decided to go outside and prove himself to be a big man-kitty, but got pretty beat up instead. He's been sulking around the house ever since. When he got all excited over the plarn ball, I decided to let him play with it...

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  And as usual, not much "play" happened. But Jump Steady did offer to give me his opinion about the project, so I'll step back and let him take over from here. (Don't worry; he speaks normal English, not cat-gibberish, but he does get a bit sidetracked at times...)

Jump Steady - What do you want to tell everybody about the project you stole?

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  Human Slave kept making crinkly noises with this thing she made for me, but wouldn't let me have it at first. It took a lot of begging, but she finally let it go. Ha - Look, I can put my foot on it! Okay, that's enough of that. Time for a nap...

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  Ooo, this thing is soft and squishy. Purr-fect for a pillow! It was so nice of Human Slave to make this for me... Maybe I'll leave her an extra hairball to play with. Don't know why she's always wrapping them up and putting them in a bag - Maybe she has a collection of them somewhere? Humans are weird.


ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  This is really nice to have after getting my head thumped. It was really mean of that other boy-kitty to beat me up after I picked a fight with him, but I'm glad to have the extra attention. Speaking of that: Hey... Hello?... HEY!!! My pillow fell flat. Anybody wanna fluff it back up for me?


ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  You! Yes, you - Human Slave with the camera. Want to put that thing down and help me out here? I mean, if you have that thing out, then it means you're going to be sitting in front of the other glowing rectangle for a while, making all those click-y noises that disturb my sleep. The least you could do is help me get more comfortable before you start all that racket...

ball, cats, crochet, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle

  Thanks, that's much better. Now I'll start working on that hairball as a reward for your good behavior.

  And thanks for your help, Jump Steady! Now I know the plastic should be stuffed a bit more so it will keep some of its shape. I wanted it to be nice and squishy, but too little stuffing will just leave me sitting on the floor in a plastic cocoon. It might be hard to find a medium between "comfortable" and "durable". That's making me doubt whether I want to attempt the project at all... What if it turns out to be a disaster? This is going to be a lot of work, but maybe it won't be wasted time if it doesn't work out. After all, it looks like I can always turn a mistake into a cat bed.

Happy Crocheting!