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. 😃
sunset, lake, pictures, photography

Thursday, October 19, 2017

From the Stash #3: Salvaging

  As I continue to pick up the pieces of life after Irma, I'm also trying to organize my yarn stash into something that takes up less room at Dad's. Buried in the bottoms of bins and hidden from sight in bags, I'm starting to find some long-neglected projects...

  What we have here are the pieces of what was supposed to be a scarf... You can catch a glimpse of its potential in this post from 2015. After the out-of-control cat sabotaged the project, I continued my efforts to finish it. Shortly after that I published another progress post where you can tell I'm about to lose my mind... And that's around the time the project was abandoned.

  Today this UFO (unfinished object) was rediscovered in a bag at the bottom of a bin, and my first thought was to throw it all in the trash. There is so much work that we still have to do with moving what can be salvaged from the house, and I just don't have the energy to put this mess together.

 But a different thought hit me just then... We've lost so much to Irma! Do I really have to throw this project away? My idea would replace one of the little things I've lost, if only it would work... So then I found myself straightening out these rings.

  Once I squeezed them all onto my hand, I ran a piece of yarn through the middle of the loops. I wouldn't say it was easy to do, but it only took me a minute. A little help from another hand would have made the process go even faster.

  And then I tied that yarn into a big ugly knot, again wishing I had another hand. I didn't succeed in getting the knot as tight as I hoped. I think it will still work, anyway.

  It only took a minute to crochet a chain with the yarn still attached to the knot. A quick slip stitch to create a loop, and then I quickly wove the end towards the knot. That's where I tied it into another big ugly knot... Usually I would be against tying knots in my work, but it doesn't matter this time.

  Those pieces of a scarf that was never completed have now become a new bath pouf. It looks weird, but it feels so soft and... Pouf-y. It's much softer than the pile of store-bought mesh that was left behind in my moldy house. But how long will the acrylic yarn last? Hmm. I say if it holds up for a week, then I'm glad I got some use out of it before it goes in the trash. The pieces were about to go there anyway, right?

  I'm really happy to have a new pouf, silly as that might seem. Though we grabbed our valuables before the storm, so many "little" things got left behind and are now contaminated with deadly spores. It's things like this that I keep adding up in my head every time I find myself needing an item. It isn't worth getting sick trying to save a $2 ball of plastic mesh that's full of mold, but maybe it is worth trying to save less than $2 of yarn from the trash.

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Color Controversies

  The internet has been buzzing about the latest color controversy, the Pink/White/Teal/Grey Shoe. If you're wondering how these things happen, it's all in the lighting and camera settings of a photo. I'm not here to debate the colors with you... I'm just bringing you the yarn-y version of this little trick.

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  If you thought by that first picture that the yarn is lavender and mauve, then perhaps you should have a look at a different photo:

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Now, I think with the next picture you can see there's something off in the coloring. But if you weren't already aware that we are playing games here, you might think that yarn is purple and white:

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  So, exactly what color is it???

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Pink and purple?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or grey and blue???

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Does your mind start to adjust to the differences in white balance with each new look?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or are you just as confused as some were over that famous dress that caused arguments around workplace water coolers?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  And what if I throw in another choice in shades of pale lavender?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or possibly one that looks almost brown?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Well, regardless of what colors you think this yarn is, at least I may have distracted you from realizing that I bought more yarn. But I have an excuse because it's a new yarn to me, and I wanted to share it with you. We'll see what it becomes...

crochet, Pink and White shoe, baby blanket, Charisma, Loops & Threads, Yarn

  But not until I'm done with the pattern for the original reason I went yarn shopping: I started a blanket for Rip van Winkle's grand-baby, but decided to add some contrast to this one-color project. I almost - almost - made it out with only what I needed, then saw the Shawl in a Ball by Lion Brand. I couldn't resist and I needed the yarn therapy after Irma. It's good to finally be crocheting again. The yarn hoarding? Maybe not so much...

Happy Crocheting!

PS - Never mind the four bins I've stored in Dad's garage... It's not really yarn hoarding if I only bought one ball, is it?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A House - GrannySpiration Challenge

We thought we got lucky at first, but we found out we were wrong when we went back with some flashlights and more time to inspect the house... 

  Those who follow the blog and have read my recent updates know I was one of many who lost their home to Hurricane Irma. This obviously makes it difficult to keep up with things like the GrannySpiration Challenge. It's been fun participating in the challenge and a great opportunity to work with other talented bloggers/crocheters, but I have no idea where my life will be going from here. I don't know if I can continue to commit to this monthly linkup and giveaway, so I'm choosing to give it up to make time to concentrate on where to go next... Meaning both mentally and literally finding a new house. For the month of October, for my last GrannySpiration Challenge, and to commemorate what was once my home, I'm sharing one last simple pattern: A house - My House.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Don't forget to check out the links after the pattern to visit everyone in the Challenge and see what they've created! And as always, you can visit EyeLoveKnots to enter the giveaway and share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup.

  I hope you can understand that this pattern is not meant to be a big pity-party for myself... Inspiration for my project came from Sigrid of KatKatKatoen. I remembered a story she shared of both good and hard times, and wanted to recreate her project to lift my spirits. Sigrid has crocheted many bright, happy-looking houses, but in the end I felt like I couldn't make myself something so colorful when my home sits dark, empty, and full of mold.

  This project is quite pitiful compared to her fun and lighthearted houses... But please keep in mind that it is NOT meant to be so sad after all! As I sat staring at a tangle of black scrap yarn (yes, I saved the yarn), the idea suddenly hit me: This can be sort of like a funeral for my home. (I know... How is that not depressing, right?) This is my way of leaving it all behind; to move on to a time and place where I will be able to get back to happy crocheting. For now, this black house full of holes represents what I have left, and I look forward to crocheting one of Sigrid's happy homes when I find one of my own.

  You could crochet this pattern in color for a less-depressing motif to use for a housewarming gift... Wouldn't it be cute attached as a tag to a basket of goodies? I also could see it sewn to a pillow, towel topper, or as part of the gift basket itself - A crocheted basket, of course. 😉 See, I've still got the ideas, just not the energy to make them happen yet. I think it has a lot more potential if created by someone in a better mood than me!

Skill level:

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I used some scrap of Caron One Pound in Black - Total weight: Less than 0.5 oz/ 14 g
Crochet hook size H/8 - 5 mm
Yarn needle

Not important

Chain 2 at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch.

Gauge is not important... You can use a different hook size for a larger or smaller house, but it's also easy to add or subtract rows to change size (see notes in instructions).

(American terms)
Double crochet
Slip stitch

*The pattern begins with the triangle that creates the roof of the house. See the note after Row 3 if working more/less rows for the size of your house.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Begin with a magic circle, or chain-3 and join into a loop with a slip stitch.

Row 1:
Chain 2. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in beginning loop.
*If using a magic circle, you may wish to wait before tightening your loop. Stitches will be worked into this space again when creating the wall of the house. (You could go ahead and tighten it a little if you wish to work over your tail - just leave yourself enough space for your hook!)

Row 2:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
Chain 1. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner space/point of triangle.
Chain 1, make 3 double crochet in the last stitch.

Row 3:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
(3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner chain-2 space.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
**2 double crochet in the last space.
Chain 2, slip stitch in the same space.**

If a larger triangle is desired, end Row 3 with 3 double crochet. 
Continue working more rows in the same manner: 3 double crochet in the first stitch; (1 chain, 3 double crochet) in each chain-1 space, (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the point/chain-2 space, and so on...
Work from ** to ** in the last stitch of the final row of your triangle.

Moving on to the "wall" of the house, we'll now work across the bottom of the triangle...

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Row 4:
Chain 2, DO NOT turn.
Make 2 double crochet in the same space as the slip stitch. 
*Do not work into the post-spaces of the stitches across the side. Instead, work into the same spaces that contain the sets of double crochet stitches.
2 double crochet in the next space, 2 double crochet in the beginning loop, 2 double crochet in the next space, and 2 double crochet in the last space.

All following rows:
Chain 2, turn.
1 double crochet in the first stitch, and each stitch across.
(10 double crochet total)

I worked four rows this way before finishing. 
Bind off, weave in ends.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Happy Crocheting!

Whether on wheels or the ground, in a valley or on a hill
May your house always stand around you, strong and still.
Should nature ever destroy your place to dwell,
Remember this one thing, and remember it well:
Possessions and walls will never fill your heart,
But a smile on your face is the way to stay smart.
A house is just a house, and you make your home...
Memories stay with you wherever you roam.

  Of course it's hard to replace sentimental things like family photos or that memento given to you by a special person, but things are just things in the end. And it can be difficult to go from having your own home to moving back into a room at your dad's house at the age of 33, which I feel is well past the time to become independent from your parents... To be alive and safe - even if you cry yourself to sleep every night because you don't know what else to do right now and you wish you could just go talk to your dog's grave like usual - It's part of being alive. Life will get better someday. Until then, I hope you will continue to share my patterns and tutorials while I'm unable to create more... It's the biggest way you can help to support me at this time. 💗

  It's been a great experience to participate in the GrannySpiration Challenge and a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. This may be the end of the Challenge for me, but there are some wonderful bloggers who will continue to share their lovely patterns and inspiration with the world... Please don't forget to support them, too!

PS - To add insult to injury, I've had an irritating spammer hitting the blog's comment section nonstop while I'm unable to tend to it as I usually would... As a result, I've enabled comment moderation. So if you leave a comment, expect it to disappear! It will not be visible until I have time to approve it.