Wednesday, December 19, 2018

One Year and Counting

  Dear friends and followers, I have neglected you and the blog for far too long. Life has become so overwhelming that I just couldn't bear to write anything at all... Every post would have been another rambling mess of "it's getting worse". More than a year has passed since we lost our home to Hurricane Irma, and we're still living at Dad's (for now). But if all goes right, we will be closing on our new home within the next few weeks! Now that the gears are turning in the right direction, I'd like to update those of you who have been worried and share some photos to prove I've still been at the hook:    

  I was super-exited to share this cardigan with all of you as soon as it was finished, but I couldn't. I probably would have continued blogging (and complaining) throughout this ordeal if it weren't for all of the tech-related issues that came crashing down on me. On top of problems with all of my devices, I couldn't access the blog for about three months... And that was a really scary time of not knowing what to do, how to fix it, or if the site's security was at risk. It turned out to just be a glitch on Google's side, but by the time the problem was resolved I had lost all motivation to write.

  Once I finally got my tech together enough to try working on anything, I was faced with over 2,000 comments that needed moderation. Trying to sort the real people from spam was the most overwhelming part. It seemed like the load of spam increased every time I responded to a legitimate comment.

  Convinced that my comment section has become tainted, I made the decision to delete ALL comments. I'm sorry to anyone who has left a comment and didn't get a response. I'm sad to see it all vanish into non-existence: The wonderful conversations with friends, so many thank you's, a few minor debates, heartfelt stories shared by others and all the stuff in between is just... Gone

  That thought is what made me realize I'm still not ready to get back to full-time blogging. The comment situation once again reminded me of how many times I've had that "gone" feeling over the past year (and counting). There was the initial loss of the house, then my cat Gilly was killed by one of those damned poisonous toads. I wasn't sad to finally see my stupid car go... But when we stopped by the property to make sure the car had been removed by the buyer, I was nowhere near prepared for the "gone" feeling that struck me when we saw what was left of our house (and what was left of our un-salvageable belongings inside) demolished into a heap of rubble, scattered across the ground and piled in a construction dumpster. It took one piece of machinery to crush ten years of our lives into a garbage heap. I cried for hours afterward. And then I went home and crocheted the pain away.

  So even after I regained control of the blog, I just...Couldn't. I couldn't decide what to do when I ran out of yarn for that vest. I couldn't concentrate on patterns to publish. I couldn't find the time to make tutorials on my new schedule. I couldn't stop feeling like everything near me breaks and somehow it's all my fault. I couldn't bear to keep bringing you all down with more of my bad news... Hell, I couldn't even bring myself to catch up on anyone else's blog because it felt like too much pressure. I couldn't fake being happy and I couldn't admit how depressed I've been. I couldn't even put any of my pictures into a post that made sense, so I dumped them all here and just stared at the page every time I tried again.

  Then I finally realized: In all those "can't's", there's one thing I can do. I can start somewhere. Anywhere! And maybe it doesn't have to be perfect. Maybe I don't spend as much time as I'd like checking grammar and labeling photos... It bothers me, but maybe all that's not so important. Maybe I don't have to concentrate so much on writing a pattern for every single thing I create. Maybe sometimes I just share a little. Maybe I'll finally learn that a pattern is not a total disaster just because I decide that I don't like the colors I chose to create it, like with this scarf: 

  C'mon, we all know there's no chance of that last one happening... Anybody remember the time I ripped back an entire shawl because I didn't like the way the colors were pooling?

  I am very pleased with the way the shawl above came out... But I made a tiny mistake while writing the pattern, and it killed any hopes I had of getting the design into my store. Although it will give me a great excuse to buy more of that beautiful yarn for another attempt, it's going to have to wait. Right now my mind is dedicated to inspections, surveys, insurance and closing; along with getting utilities and internet turned on when all that is done.

  Once we close on the new house, there will much work to do before we can actually move in... It's a foreclosure. First it needs paint, because I think there's more colors on the walls, ceilings and doors than in my yarn stash. Then it needs a good cleaning, some kitchen cabinets, appliances, and hopefully not much else because we still have to replace all the furniture we lost. Plus, there's the actual moving... Sigh. Yes, it will still be a while before I'm ready to be back full-time. But it's good to finally have the motivation to write something.

  You still won't see me on social media, and I'm not sure if I'll ever go back. Besides the spam that passes through filters here and on Google +, I'm sick of being harassed on all platforms by random guys that seem to think women are only there for a date... With all the spam-junk I have to sort through, I don't need pictures of any man-junk - Thank you but NO, I'm not interested in running away with a Nigerian prince - Since when did personal messaging part of Pinterest get so darn naughty?

  So, I've been kinda disgusted with the internet. I hope you can understand why I've retreated into the darkness. I'll be back, I promise! Just remember, we don't use that word "soon" around here anymore... We just wait patiently and hope things don't get worse.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, January 5, 2018


(A quick side note about the faux-fur hooded cowl that inspired this project - The post for how to finish the hood is on hold until I get the fitting checked, which requires a baby. Of course I don't have one of those things and it's proving difficult to borrow the one that the cowl was made for...)

  And now on to my latest trend: Slippers! While working on my last project, the thought hit me that the shaping of a hood could also be used to create the heel of a sock. Although I was sort of right, I'm not happy with the look of the results. I'd like to show you how I made them anyway, because looks aren't always everything and these sure are some comfy-fitting slippers! Follow along and you'll soon understand why I'm calling this post "SlipperMania"... 

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  I made that first pair of slippers with bulky-weight Charisma yarn, thinking they would be perfectly warm and toasty for the upcoming cold snap. There's three things I didn't like about them:
1) Bulky weight slippers might be too warm. My feet are perpetual blocks of ice, but five minutes in these slippers had them melting into... Well... Sweaty feet. Yuck.
2) The design was made in a slightly different way than what you'll see below. There was a gap left over which needed to be closed with some decreases, and I wasn't excited about the work it would take to write that pattern in multiple sizes.
3) It took two skeins of Charisma to create one pair of slippers.

And that's when I decided to grab some worsted weight to try again with an easier design...

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn

  Nope, not pretty. But they are so comfortable! They're sort of like that one pair of pajama pants that you love to wear until unexpected company shows up while you're in them, and the next thing you know Aunt Cindy reaches out to pat your arm and asks if you've been drinking too much and are you feeling okay?...

  Well, maybe you'll have a little more dignity in these slippers than those eyebrow-raising pants. Heck, wear them together with the pj's and be proud of the mess you are. What matters is being comfortable, right? 😉 Okay then. Let's learn how they're made:

Charisma, crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Begin by crocheting a circle that will reach from the middle of the heel to your ankle bone. Once you reach that size, you'll need to put two flat sides on the circle.

-Divide the number of stitches in half, then divide that number in half again. My circle was 48 stitches around, so:
48 / 2 = 24 ; 24 / 2 = 12. This will be the number of stitches for each flat side.
-Work even across the first side. In the last stitch (12th for mine), increase to create a corner. Because of the size of my circle, I needed to make 3 stitches to stop the corner from pulling.
-Make another increase in the first stitch of the next side, then work even until you've reached your number of stitches.

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 Now, turn and work in rows across just one flat side...

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 Keep working in rows until the length of the piece reaches from the heel to the base of your toes.

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 Begin decreasing. This pattern was worked in half double crochet stitches, so I used a dc2tog stitch for my decreases... In hindsight, I wish I would have used a sc2tog instead. The dc2tog left a bigger gap than I like. Although it's not so bad that (adult) toes would slip out, I just think the sc2tog would have blended into the pattern better.

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 And now, here's the biggest mistake I made with this pair... You'll make two pieces for each slipper, then sew them together. I wanted to make one continuous seam, but I hastily bound off when I "finished" the pieces. Here's what I should have done to make that work:

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  I should have worked back across and down the side, stopping at the "corner" of that first flat side.

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THEN bind off. You'll be able to use the tail to sew from the ankle hole, around the toe, down the base of the foot, then up the back of the heel; all using the same thread. In the end I just sewed them together as far as I could with the tail, then used another piece of yarn to sew up the toe and top of the foot:

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Mistakes aside, it worked and I liked the result... At first. The rounded heel fits perfectly; just the shape I was looking for. And that odd little jog where "round" meets "rows"? It creates some compression around the arch and hugs a foot in all the right ways. Although odd-looking off the hook, the whole slipper stretches for a snug fit and doesn't look so weird once you have them on. Just go back and see that first picture for an example. Not bad at all, right?

But once you take them off?...

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Oh, no. Put a pair of those in Aunt Cindy's stocking, and I bet she won't be asking any more questions about how you're feeling. She'll just be at the head of your "intervention" next weekend.

  And that was the end of SlipperMania that day... But wait, there's more: The next day I sat staring at my stash and noticed I have a lot of Red Heart Super Saver in orange. I don't like orange and I don't know why I have so much of it in my stash. Why not use it for practice yarn so it doesn't hurt as bad if I end up throwing some away?

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 While I'm at it, why not abandon that idea of two-piece slippers and make some that don't have weird shapes or seams that require more attention than I'm capable of?

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  Yup, using that orange yarn was a great idea. These fit even better than those space socks I started with, and I think they use less yarn, too. You might notice that mine are a little dirty now because I've been wearing them out to the garage, not caring what the concrete might do to them because they're orange. I don't like orange, but I think I love these slippers anyway.

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  As for that one skein of Red Heart Super Saver that I was hoping to kill with a pair of slippers? Well, it also was used to make a pair of children's size, then toddler size, and finally a little tiny pair in a size that I still have to measure to label. And there's still enough yarn to make another adult pair. I realized that SlipperMania was a little out of hand, so I decided to take a break and show you my trials and errors before working on the pattern.

  Then there was a delay in getting to this post because I just happened to try a different yarn (Hipster) and a few adjustments to make a really nice pair of stretchy socks. They were so nice that Rip van Winkle spotted them and said "ooo". Then he felt them and said "ohhhh", and I haven't seen them since... It must mean they're good socks if a mud-covered, truck-driving man decided he wanted them, right? (Just keep letting him think it was his idea; never mind that I was already making them in his size.) Perhaps they'll eventually turn up in the laundry so I can get some pictures to share in the next post. And hopefully my SlipperMania has calmed down by then so I can actually get to writing that pattern.

Happy Crocheting!

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