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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Work on Hold in Irma's Path

  To my friends, fellow crochet lovers, and yarn hoarders: There will be no crochet from me until sometime after this week. Hurricane Irma is barreling through the Caribbean and - from what has been forecast - is headed straight this way. Living in the center of the state, we might be a bit safer than those on the coast. But how safe are you from a hurricane when you live in a mobile home? You're not. So I'm putting the yarn away with hopes that it will still be here when I come back.

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress


  An emergency can make you gauge how important things are in your life. Just a few days ago I was trying to sort out which of my patterns or tutorials to share next. Now we're just wondering when the local hardware stores will share another supply of plywood. No bread, no water, and no gas everywhere you go... It's like the apocalypse has happened and the storm isn't even here yet.

  I am nervous and worrying myself sick. If this category 5 storm goes up the middle of the state like they say it could, we'll be right in its path. As for my mobile home with the roof that already started leaking from the constant rains we've had: It will be gone. There's no way it will make it through such catastrophic winds. The only thing we can do is decide what we can take, evacuate, and hope there's more than just five acres of mud and debris left to come back to.  

  Unfortunately, what won't be making the trip is six bins full of yarn and a pile of notebooks containing my patterns. Valuables, important documents, and the cat will be loaded up. Everything else stays. So in the event that my work isn't here when I return, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share some pictures of what's being left behind...

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

  This is the moment of uncertainty when all we can do is prepare. Some laugh it off and stock up on more beer instead of necessities... I wish they could have lived my life so they'd understand why I'm stressed and getting ready. We rode out hurricane Andrew in Broward county when I was eight years old. I'll never forget huddling in the dark hallway of the house as the wind screamed overhead; the sound of the shingles being ripped off the roof one by one; the aftermath of a world completely changed forever.

  It wasn't something I wanted to do again. Nonetheless, I had just moved to this area as newly separated 20-year-old while in the second term of carrying my son. In roared hurricane Charley and he proceeded to obliterate the town. Francis soon followed, then Ivan, and Jeanne, all doing more damage and flooding before cleanup was finished from the last. Spending weeks without electricity isn't fun. It's worse when you're pregnant during the middle of summer in Florida. But the reason we're able to say "we made it through" is because we prepared. Andrew and Charley were both storms that took last-minute turns and caught us all off guard. I'd much rather be prepared for nothing than lose everything.
 
  I have a sense of impending doom that I just can't shake. Usually I would pick up a hook and yarn to fight my fears. Instead, I'm doing laundry, packing bags, and making lists of supplies. I'm preparing. While I know this is the time to be level-headed and only take the few things we have that looters might actually want, I'm still trying to figure out how much yarn I can stuff in a bag and what to make during the storm... And that is surely the sign of a true yarn addict.

Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Homespun Pillow

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor

  Crocheted pillows are often so colorful and textured with different stitch designs. Not this one! What we have here is a plain and practical pillow for my truck-driving husband. It's a simple pattern, quick to make, and it could be a colorful stash-buster if you want it to be... Because he wanted it his way, I'm bringing you a drab grey square fit for a man:

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor

  So while Rip van Winkle complained about how uncomfortable it is to sleep in a truck, I questioned the ethics of napping while getting paid. I'm kidding. 😉 If they get called in early and the job gets cancelled, the guys clock out. But they don't drive home. They sprawl out on tables, perch in chairs, or curl up in trucks as they wait for the next job to start, and sometimes take pictures of each other snoring to post on Facebook... Driving a truck (or sleeping in one) can be a real pain in the neck, so I searched the stash for a soft yarn to make a manly pillow for him.

  This pattern could be made with any yarn or hook size. The squares are easy to continue if your gauge is tighter and you need to work more rounds. The beginning starts with a circle, so changing colors each round would really make the design pop... Or, it can make just a subtle bit of texture in one shade for a simple project that will use up a skein of yarn.

Skill level:
Easy

Materials:
Bulky weight (5) 100% acrylic yarn
I'm using Homespun from Lion Brand in the color Edwardian
Crochet hook size L-11 / 8 mm
Stitch markers (optional)
Yarn needle
16" x 16" (40.5 cm x 40.5 cm) pillow form

  *Although one color, this project did make room in my stash. The squares were made from the Homespun yarn I had bought many years ago as a beginner, planning to knit a blanket. When I learned to crochet I recycled it for (what would have been) an afghan along with the Country Loom from my recent review. The pillow form was stuffed in the stash, too, so I really made some space for more yarn!

Gauge:
Not important... Square size is easy to adjust.

Notes:
Chain-1 at beginning of rounds does not count as a stitch.

The single crochet stitch is used to join rounds after round 3. This the takes place of a chain-1 corner space.

Stitch markers can be very helpful to use while working round 3. Marking your stitches while making this round will help you avoid recounting in the next.

Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Slip Stitch
Single crochet
Single crochet 2 together (sc2tog)
Double crochet


Instructions for squares:
*Find example photos after pattern*

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor

(Make 2)

Round 1:
Begin with a magic circle. Chain 1, make 12 double crochet in the ring.
Tighten ring and join with a slip stitch in the first double crochet made.
(12 double crochet)

Round 2:
Chain 1, double crochet in the first stitch available. 2 double crochet in each of the 11 stitches remaining.
Double crochet once more in the beginning space; join with a slip stitch to beginning double crochet.
(24 double crochet)

Round 3:
Chain 1, double crochet in the first stitch available. 2 double crochet in each of the 23 stitches remaining.
Double crochet once more in the beginning space; join with a slip stitch to beginning double crochet. *Optional... Count and mark every 12 stitches (4 markers; 1 for each corner space).
(48 double crochet)

Round 4:
Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the first stitch available.
*1 double crochet in each of the next 11 stitches. (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the next.*
Repeat from * to * 2 more times.
Work 1 double crochet in each of the 11 remaining stitches; 2 double crochet in the beginning space. Join with a single crochet in the first double crochet made.

Round 5:
Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
*1 double crochet in each stitch up to corner space. In corner, work (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet).*
Repeat * to * 2 more times.
Work 1 double crochet in each remaining stitch up to beginning space. Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space; join with a single crochet in the first double crochet made.

All following rounds:
Repeat Round 5 for each additional round. I worked 8 rounds to fit a 16" (40.5 cm) pillow form. The squares barely stretched over the sides of the pillow at this point, but the joining seam will make extra space. Bind off and weave in ends of first square. I chose to start joining without cutting the yarn from the second square.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
 Round 1: Make 12 double crochet.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
 Round 2: Make 2 double crochet in each stitch (24 double crochet).

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
 Round 3: Make 2 double crochet in each stitch (48 double crochet).

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
 Doubling up again in round 3 makes extra stitches that cause the pattern to ruffle. Don't worry, it will flatten out as you work the next round.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
 Work 1 double crochet in next 11 stitches for side; (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) for corners.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor
Repeat for all following rounds. Pattern should remain flat from here on.

Joining:
I hate having to sew anything I can crochet instead. You can sew your squares together if you prefer a smooth seam, but I like the textured seam around the edge.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor

You can begin joining the squares on the first three sides without inserting the pillow.

Chain 1. Insert hook in the single crochet joining space of the working square. Yarn over, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook).

With the wrong side of the next square facing, insert hook in the corner space. Yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook).

Yarn over, pull through all three loops.

Sc2tog in each stitch around, completing the first three sides.

Insert the pillow. Continue joining the last side together using the sc2tog to the last stitch. Do not join. Cut yarn and thread tail on a yarn needle. Bring the tail from back to front through the first stitch, top to bottom through the ending stitch, and bottom to top through the middle of the false stitch created. Weave in ends.

free pattern, crochet, pillow, square, granny square, double crochet, 16" pillow, cushion, cover, 40.5 cm pillow, easy, Homespun, yarn, bulky, men's, home decor

  I still think it's a pretty boring-looking pillow compared to what it could be with a combination of colors... But what I think doesn't matter this time. We often want to make our work exciting with stripes and polka dot pops of color. But when you just need to make a practical pillow for a truck driver, that one-color skein that's been buried in the stash can come through to make a special gift... Even if it doesn't look like much to the crocheter's eyes.

Happy Crocheting!

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