Thursday, June 3, 2021

Blog Maintenance

  Have you ever wanted to change something that works just fine the way that it is? I received some tips about making the blog more user-friendly and took the advice. Although I didn't like the new settings, it did seem to be more successful for a short time. Then I noticed my ad revenue drop from almost-nothing to completely-nothing, and now I know why...

  Blogger/Google had notified me about some "mobile usability issues" after making those changes, so I've been working hard at fixing that instead of creating new content. One might assume this is the reason for losing viewers, but it is not. I can still pull in a decent amount of views without publishing new content thanks to other sites that link to my patterns. (BIG THANKS to all of them!)

  While fixing the "mobile usability issues", it seemed logical to do that work from my phone. It's not easy for me to work from a tiny glowing rectangle that is full of distractions. It was frustrating, but I finally got to the root of the main problem and fixed all the things Google suggested.

  Or so I thought...

  Everything seemed fine until I went back to using my PC, and... Oh. No. There's text overlapping borders, photos taking up the whole screen, paragraphs mashed next to each other in tiny print instead of running down the length of the page.

  Large text, text that is small, and some text that should be there but it's not there at all... 

  So now I have even more work to do, in addition to fixing all those broken-link tutorials and trying to get back to creating new patterns. It looks like my recent posts, created on Blogger's new interface, are working correctly. Anything made on the old interface is a mess. 

  Oh yeah, so it's all that plus I'm still trying to learn that new interface which has changed the way things look to me while creating content. All actions have been reduced to tiny little icons that don't have a "hover for more info" feature. It may be easier for me to just copy/paste the content from old posts into the new interface and republish everything, but then that will cause broken links for the previously mentioned pattern sites... Ugh.

  But this post is less about complaining and more about my need of a bare-bones post without photos, links, or any of the other stuff that adds to the HTML. I just need something plain so I can see the basics of what the body, borders, widgets and what-nots should be. I might come back and change some formatting or add a picture as I'm working. 

(Add random kitty pic)

  Or you may start seeing older content being republished. Everybody please hold some extra yarn for me, because all I'll be holding for a while is a keyboard and mouse. Okay, that's not true... I'll probably be holding a cup of coffee and a bottle of ibuprofen for the headaches... But once in a while I have to put it all down just so I can hold up one specific finger directed at Google. 

Happy Crocheting!


  The main thing I'm concentrating on is getting the photos to fit. I thought that had been going well until I reached my tutorials for the WBS blankets... "Oh no" again. I included the instructions as captions attached to the pictures. The good news is that my photos fit.
And the bad news is pretty obvious:

  Some of the text background is white, some isn't, and some is white text on white background... The more I try to fix, the more problems I find. And now I'm doing ALL of this work from my phone because my PC has decided to take a permanent nap... This is what I get for running to Walmart and buying the only HP (stands for "Has Problems") they had in my price range. 

Update 2:
  LOL... Does anybody have a sledgehammer I can borrow? Mine seems to be missing. 
  The good news is I was able to fix the text, when viewed from desktop. 
  The bad news is that now the mobile page looks like this:

  Now if you'll please excuse me, I can't properly demonstrate my level of frustration here. If anybody needs me, just follow the sounds of smashing electronic devices and four-letter words being screamed into a pillow. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Impostor

  Working with Mainstays acrylic yarn resulted in a negative review before I was finished working on this pattern. (You can read that review here if you missed it.) I was aware it didn't perfectly match Red Heart Super Saver. I knew to not expect much from a Walmart brand acrylic yarn. What I didn't know was how the smallest difference in gauge would make this project much harder than it needed to be.   

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn

  Let's just start with quality... Do you see the "seam" running up the body of the character? Well, it's not really a seam. That is the tail from starting new yarn after joining the legs, and I worked over it as I always do. The beginning of my rounds on the other side don't show as much. So why didn't I sew the backpack to this side to cover the flaw? Because the other side is riddled with a bunch of snags from the yarn splitting as I worked.

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  I already knew this wouldn't be great, but since some adjustments in the pattern were still needed I didn't mind continuing with the Mainstays yarn. The backpack on the first character needed to be wider, and I wasn't sure if the body needed to be shorter or if I got the placement of the visor wrong (maybe both?), but I was mostly happy with what I had worked out using Red Heart. 

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  The finished size of the Mainstays version came out smaller and the yarn doesn't stretch the same when stuffing. That means I can't be sure if any of the adjustments I made will work the same when I go back to using Red Heart. Plus, I had to rework the whole design for the visor because I'm still using Red Heart to create that piece. The size of the original visor didn't match and in the end it was necessary to start over with fewer beginning stitches. I think I like how the new visor is a bit more round, so I'll still have to redo the pattern to match Red Heart if I decide to keep it that way. 

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  Overall, I think the version made in Super Saver looks better. If you take a close-up look at these two pieces, you can see that Red Heart fills in the gaps between the stitches, while Mainstays allows a peek through to the stuffing. Same hook, almost same pattern but with a few more stitches across for the backpack.

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  Is it possible that going up a hook size could have reduced the tension and produced a better-looking results? Probably. (I think the tension being too tight could be the cause of the tails showing through.) I chose to not change sizes because the next larger hook also didn't match the gauge of Super Saver and made the pattern larger than the original. 

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  Lesson learned: It's not the best idea to substitute an unfamiliar yarn while in the middle of designing the pattern. I don't need the headache of trying to match gauge while I'm still trying to figure out the proper dimensions of the character! Do I have the visor too high? Or is the torso too tall? Something is triggering my OCD to say "this isn't right"... I just wish my brain could tell me exactly what that is, instead of just telling me I'm wrong.

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  Anyway, at least I worked out the problem I was having with the backpack. The first try was close but not wide enough. It looks perfectly fine if the character is at a slight angle, but when facing forward the backpack disappears. Because every reference photo I can find shows the character at an angle, I'm not really sure how wide the backpack should be. What I do know is I always struggle with body proportions and facial features and this is EXACTLY why I stay away from projects like this! 

  (Deep breath...) However, It's not really as bad as anxiety is trying to make it. The backpack was fixed with a few extra stitches across and some adjustment when sewing it shut... Plus I changed the way I began the piece, and how is was attached to the character... Okay, so the backpack actually got a total redesign, and I barely noticed!  

Among Us, crochet pattern, Mainstays acrylic yarn, Red Heart Super Saver

  I can say I'm closer to knowing what I need to change, but using this impostor of a yarn for the second try was a mistake. I now have a skein of Red Heart Super Saver in pink (yuck), and I should be able to work out a finished pattern soon because I just have to figure out the proper dimensions and make the needed adjustments. 

  Sounds simple, right? It should be, but having OCD makes assembling the pieces a big pain. I see little details that most people probably don't... Like how the visor on the pink (ew) version is pinched in a bit to the left; the border around the visor on red has a thick spot where I sewed over a stitch twice. And neither one is perfectly centered. I see the stitches that got pulled at the top of the Red Heart version because I pulled a bit too hard while sewing in the tail; I see every little imperfection in the Mainstays piece from the snags and splits in the yarn, and how the top of the head is a bit too flat because I didn't stuff it quite enough.

  I'll get it soon, maybe. I'm so close, yet so far away from a finished pattern because of the setback with the bad yarn... And all that other stuff, too. I know it's close enough to be called good, but I also know I could make it better. Any suggestions?
Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

When Mistakes Don't Matter

  Alternate title for this post: Crazy Doesn't Begin to Describe Me.

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  Oh, what have I gone and done now? I should start by explaining that although my state of "mental breakdown" over this project is more satire than serious... It is a fact that I'm questioning my sanity after beginning another (right, ANOTHER) one of my "giant plarn" projects. And before we move on to the actual subject, I'd like to provide the link to the last giant plarn project that still isn't finished

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  I mean, I can't even get my camera settings right... I took half a dozen pictures of my new pile of giant plarn while trying to figure out why the photos are so dark. Uh, maybe it's because the photo is in black and white? I can't remember to turn off a monochrome filter, what business do I have starting another giant plarn project when I already have one on the hook? 

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  So there's all that, plus more: This project was supposed to be oval shaped. To achieve this shape, I used 14 stitches in the beginning round. This number was fine until somewhere around the tenth round, when too many stitches started causing ripples.

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  My genius brain decided to fix this problem by cutting the number of increases in half, so... Seven. Seven increases per round to achieve a symmetrical shape. I realized my mistake when the project became not-an-oval. Then big-brain kicked in again to fix this problem by alternating the places where I was making the increases... I swear I'm not an amateur, but this project is no help at proving it!

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  Anyway, none of that really matters as much as the mistakes yet to come. This WIP is going to be a cat bed, and I'm hoping the cat won't mind that I managed to work the ripples out by fudging the oval into a circle after working back up to an even stitch count. What's more important to me is not having to frog a project that has 15 bags in each round.

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  I'm cutting and joining the material using the loop method (video tutorial here) and I don't want to rip back all those stitches with all those little knots in between them! Fifteen bags in one round. At least I've found a trick that's helping save my hands from the friction of the plarn...

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  A pair of lightweight gloves makes this job slightly easier. Within the first few rounds I was developing a sore spot that would have become a blister on my thumb. The gloves also catch the bit of ink that wears off of the bags instead of having to wash my hands every time I put the project down. So there's one positive thing that came out of this disaster!

  Now, let's get back to all the stuff I'm messing up: I want the sides of the cat bed to be fairly stiff, which I thought I could naturally achieve with the thick-cut plarn. Once I reached the desired size I began working even, but the edge didn't curl tightly enough because there were still a few too many stitches all around. That's when I did this:

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  What is this thing that I've done? Well, I've crocheted one row over another. What is that called? I have no freaking clue. Again, my brain seems to have gone on vacation. (Can I go too?) My memory wants to call this the "roll stitch" but I also know darn well that's another name for the bullion stitch. There's a name for this! I swear I'm quite experienced at crochet...

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  Perhaps I should just stop trying to convince anyone that I know what I'm doing. My row-over-row crochet work did nothing to help stiffen the sides. Instead, the sides seem to be too bulky and don't hold themselves up at all. I should be gaining vertical sides now that I'm working even, but it still seems to be growing outward... 

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  I can keep track of the number of bags in a round because I'm following a color pattern as I join the bags. Each round for the sides uses 15 bags. And now I'm crocheting a row over a row, so it's taking twice as many bags to create the sides.

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  Twice as thick, yet the sides still fall. Instead of doing the smart thing and frogging back a few rounds, I threw a few decreases in there and kept powering through the now twice-as-hard project. Can ya'll please give me a call if you happen to see my brain wandering around somewhere?

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  The sides finally took shape with those decreases, if you can really call it "shape"... A better description might be "how much were you drinking when you made this?" but I'm leaving it just as it is. It's for a cat... Do you think the cat will care if the bed is perfectly round? 

plarn, plastic yarn, recycled grocery bags, crochet, cats, cat bed

  This is the worst-looking thing I've made in a while, but for once it doesn't matter if I've made a few mistakes. I would say I hope the cat will be happy, but there's me not thinking again... You can't make this cat happy. She's old and grumpy, which is why I thought she'd like a nice squishy bed, but the only thing that makes this cat happy is taking what you didn't give her... Oh, wow, it just took writing an entire blog post to realize: I'm just wasting my time anyway, aren't I? 

cat, crochet

Happy Crocheting!

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