Friday, April 3, 2015

WBS Blanket Progress: First Color

Blanket One: First Color
Join me in my journey to become part of a world record - Let's help make the squares that will create the World's Biggest Stocking!

To learn more about the project from its creators, click on the World's Biggest Stocking button in the right sidebar.

To find out what drove me to make more than one blanket for the project, see this Yarn Tales Tuesday post.

  I'm taking time off from designing patterns to do some charity work, but I didn't get very far yet. I came down with a cold. But if there's one good thing about having an autoimmune disease like RA, my immune system seems to work really fast at attacking viruses so it can get back to attacking me.

Don't mess with me, germs! I got a crazy, out of control immune system that's gonna kick your...!

  Anyway, let's get to the subject because we have lots of pictures to go over... The first blanket that I'll be sharing my progress on is a simple large granny square blanket with color changes. No carrying colors; no pattern changes: Pretty easy. 

  To get the pattern for this blanket, download it here. Remember, these patterns are not my design, and I'm not affiliated with the companies involved in the project! I simply want to help you guys out if you need it, because as of now, that Stocking Tracker is still only at 10%, and that sucks. Come on, people, make a blanket! (Or, go join Guidecentral, give all my guides a "like" so I can make some extra money, and I'll be able to afford to make an extra blanket - which doesn't cost you any more than a little of your time!)

  Once you've downloaded the patterns for the World's Biggest Stocking, look for the Big Granny Square Blanket (pg. 6). Remember, you can make these blankets in any color you choose, as well as any brand of yarn, as long as the finished blanket measures 36" (91.5 cm) square - But try to keep the colors cheery! As I said before, this is a simple granny square pattern. The basic form of the pattern will stay the same as you work, adding more sets of double crochet every round.  

-One last thing before we begin: I'm still learning the new camera. Sorry about a few of the photos looking a little washed out.

Ready? Let's set a world record!

The very first thing you really ought to do is - make a gauge swatch! You should have 12 double crochet in 4" (10 cm).

But, the pattern gauge (currently) says you should also have 3 rows in that same measurement - And my 3 rows don't add up! I have changed hook sizes, and I can't get close. I tried pulling my stitches up taller, and couldn't meet the gauge. 

To begin, chain (ch) 5, joining into a ring with a slip stitch (sl st) in the farthest ch from the hook.

Chain 6. This counts as the beginning double crochet (ch 3) and the ch-3 corner space.

 Need to know how to make a double crochet? Let's learn it! If you're already familiar with the stitch, you may want to skip ahead a few steps...

To make a double crochet (dc), yarn over the hook from back to front.

Insert the hook in the center ring.

Yarn over, pull up a loop. (3 loops on hook)

Yarn over, pull through two loops on the hook. (2 loops remaining)

Yarn over, pull through the remaining two loops. (Dc complete)

Now you've got the double crochet down! Let's get to the rest of the pattern:

Make two more dc in the ring.

Chain three for the next corner space.

Make three dc in the ring, then chain three for the following corner space.

Make three more dc in the ring.

Chain three for the last corner space of the round.

Make two more dc in the ring.

Locate the third chain of the beginning ch-6. Insert the hook.

Yarn over, pull through the stitch and the loop on the hook for a slip st.

That's round one! There's one more round to make with this color; let's see if we can go a little faster this time...

To begin the next round, insert the hook in the ch-3 corner space.

Yarn over, pull a loop up and through the loop on the hook for a sl st.

Chain 6 (to count as the beginning dc and ch-3 space), make three dc in the same space.

Don't forget to chain one before moving on to the next corner space!

In the next ch-3 corner space, make (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc).

*Chain one, make (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in the next corner ch-3 space.*  Repeat from * to* for the following corner. Chain one before moving on to the next step.

In the same corner ch-3 space as the beginning of the round: Make two dc in the space before the beginning ch-6.

Join with a sl st to the third ch of the beginning ch-6. Cut the yarn to bind off, pull the tail through the stitch.

  So, until next time, you have time to weave in those ends! Well, you don't have to, yet. I guess if you want to, you can wait until the whole project is finished, then spend tons of time on the tails. And develop nightmares like I did when I saved the weaving in for the end of a three-strand, three-color full sized afghan. I still have it stuffed in a cabinet, afraid of those human-eating-tentacles... I mean, tails.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Time for a Break
Help, I'm not making any progress!

  If you follow the Crochet is the Way blog regularly, you know that I've taken on even more charity projects than I normally do. And you may have noticed the lack of a free pattern for February's charity Scarf of the Month... And it's the end of March!

  Well the Scarf of the Month pattern is supposed to go up the month after it was designed, but it's not supposed to be this late. Sometimes, life (or insert other four-letter-word here) happens. And sometimes your kids are on Spring Break and they never let you get any work done, because they don't understand that you're still working even though you haven't left the house. And sometimes you would have finished the Scarf of the Month, but you had to pick up extra work to afford the yarn, and that took time away from working on it, then you finally get it done, and somebody looks at it and says "What's that supposed to be?", and it totally makes you question your design skills and rip the whole 80" scarf back apart in a frenzy of self-skill-hate.

*Gasping for air*
  Got all that?

  Maybe my run-on sentences have already chased you away, and there's no point in me writing anything else because you're not reading it anymore. But, I know that many of you come back time and again to read what I have to say. And so many of you always have something nice to say back, some word of encouragement, or an expression of sympathy, even though you don't know me personally. And I love that. It shows me that there are good people out there who take the time to listen to what someone is saying, and at least act like they care. Thank you.

  Now, it's time for me to take a break. Not from crochet work, just from the blog. The last time I said that, I missed one post and came right back to it. But this time, I need a break! I'm not abandoning the blog, it's not like I'll be gone for a year or anything, and I'll still be posting. But no more free patterns for a few weeks. Just a few weeks. What I'd like to do is concentrate on the World's Biggest Stocking Project, and do a totally-unofficial-and-not-really-a-crochet-along-at-all.

  You'll be seeing progress of my work on the blanket(s), and if you choose to crochet one of them along with me, I'll be here to help. Just drop me a question, and I'll see if I can help you out! But - because the patterns aren't mine, and I'm not affiliated with any of the companies involved in the project, I want to make it clear that it's not an official crochet-along (if you can even call it that). I'll only be posting my progress on my work, and you will have to download the patterns for yourself, and work along with me if you choose.

  I really wanted to get that Scarf of the Month pattern posted before I took a break. Contrary to what that Google + profile badge says, I'm not really superwoman. Not all the time. And I'm definitely not supermom, either. How many times can you tell kids to clean their room before they still don't do it? And things like this morning's episode of sock-cutting... Why did we cut our sock? Apparently because we "felt like it".

  Perhaps I should add (because this sounds like the behavior of an unsupervised three year-old and you might be getting worried about my attentiveness as a parent) that they are ten and twelve. They should know better. (I thought?)

  I'm not looking for sympathy; What I need now is physical help (and a babysitter), and that's not something you all can do for me. I have a closet full of grocery bags waiting to become plarn. I have a disorganized yarn stash, even though I swear I just tackled that project. I'm only sleeping three hours a night, and I haven't taken a real day off in over two years. I have two children that are both wonderful and beautiful but they don't listen (at all!) when Mom says she needs to be working. 

  So, I'm getting farther and farther behind, and that's why I'm taking a get-caught-up break. Even though they have put the brakes (no pun intended) on some of my blog projects, this weekend my kids gave me some of the best encouragement I've ever received.

  I tried to explain to them that I need to work extra-hard to get the Scarf of the Month done, because it's for charity. And I explained that they'll need to go play by themselves a little more, to give me time to finish the extra work I picked up. 

  They asked me why I make stuff for charity, if I don't get paid for it... I explained the best that I could about how doing good things can make you feel good about yourself, but also how I do benefit from posting the free pattern. 

  Then they both asked me if the next time they had some money, if instead of buying toys, they could each give me $20 for my charity program. 


(Don't worry I'm not taking their money.) 

  Then, they interrupted me about twenty times while writing this post so that it took over two days to finish. 

(Maybe I should take their money?)

  They're still angels... With crooked halos.

I'll try to get the Scarf of the Month pattern posted soon. Then it's going to be all about #crochetforcharity for a while!

P.S. My kids like metal music, too! Since they seem to be the theme of today's Yarn Tales Tuesday, this week's YTT song of the day is one of their favorites! This song is 100% profanity-free and absolute nonsense; I don't know how these guys actually make money, but they're awesome. Yes, "Dogs Like Socks" is a "real" song:

P.P.S. Yaaaaaaay! I finally got my new camera... I took the pictures for today's post using a simple setting, now I have to figure out the rest of the bells and whistles.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to: Make a Raised Seashell Motif

  I really wish I could have included this in the same post as the Seashell Soap Saver pattern, but there were too many pictures!  After taking photos of the soap saver in progress, I discovered that it was too confusing to see what's going on in the picture. So - I've done a neat little thing here - Instead of the pattern being worked in the round as for the soap saver, this tutorial shows it worked in rows.

  (That means, if you want to use this raised motif for another pattern, you've got it!)

  Without the extra chains behind the work, this row version is so much clearer. Now, keep in mind - It will look a bit different when you work it in the round, because you won't be turning. However, the stitches are all symmetrical, so it works either way!

If you're using this tutorial for the Soap Saver (SS), find the round you'll be working into in parenthesis ( ) . 

To those of you who are using this for your own designs, and not for the Soap Saver (SS) pattern, sorry, you'll have to put up with a few unnecessary explanations as you follow along. But here's some bonus info for you: You can work this pattern with any number of chains! Need help adjusting it? Just ask. 

Everybody, look for the asterisks (*) to compare differences.

Let's get started!

-You'll see a few abbreviations - 
Chain (ch)
Chain space (ch-sp)
Double crochet (dc)
Slip stitch (sl st)
  -SS is for Soap Saver

*First, take a look at what we have after Round One of the SS pattern. You can still see the chain-3 space of Round Two, but here, it's part of Row One. (Let's just pretend that the beginning chain counts as Round 1 of the SS.) Row Two and Three here are the chain-4 spaces of Round Three and Four in the SS pattern. An extra double crochet is added to the edges where another chain space would be in the SS pattern. 

*For everybody: I told you you can work this pattern with any number of chains; as in chain-(...). You'll still need to work this pattern over three rows of chains (meaning, start in the 4th row).

Make 1 double crochet (dc) in the last available dc before the chain space. 

For all of the following stitches: Bring the yarn in front of the work. Insert the hook from front to back under the chain space, then back to the front of the work from above the chain space. You will be grabbing the yarn from the side facing you, instead of from behind the work.

*For the SS pattern, chain (ch) 1.

*Everybody else: You may need to adjust the number of chains you make, depending on where you want the motif to sit. If you're using more chains across, you'll need to make more chains here. -or- You can also make more than one motif in a long chain!

Make 1 dc in the chain space (ch-sp) of (Round 2) the third row down.

The top of the current row will fold down a bit once you work this stitch.

Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 3) the next row up.

You may find it easier to rotate the pattern slightly, so you're working right to left (opposite for lefties), instead of from the bottom up.

Make a double crochet around both ch-sps of (Round 3 and 4) the current and next row.

Because you're working into an open row at the top, you can grab the yarn for this and the next two stitches from behind as usual.

Ch 1. Make a dc in the ch-sp of (Round 4) the last row only.

Chain 1. Make 1 dc around both ch-sps of (Round 3 and 4) the top row and the next row.

Time to work with the yarn in front again! Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 3) the middle row only.

Again, you may find it easier to rotate your work so that you're working in the proper direction, instead of downwards. However, if you turn to work in the correct direction here, your yarn will be coming from the opposite direction, and you will have to insert the hook from left to right (opposite for lefties). Be careful to not twist the stitches, or turn in the same direction as before, and work to the right (left for lefties).

Make 1 dc in the ch-sp of (Round 2) the first row only.

*For SS pattern, ch 1.

*Everybody else: Make the same number of chains as before the first lower dc.

Dc in the next dc.

*SS pattern: We're picking up here at the first dc after the fpdc in Round 6.

*Everybody else: You'll need to make 1 dc in the dc before the chain-1 (or other number of chains)

*SS pattern: Your chain-1 spaces will be forward and easier to find!

Ch 1, dc in the ch-sp.

Locate the chain-1 spaces on either side of the middle double crochet.

Sl st in the first available ch-sp, ch 1, sl st in the next ch-sp.

Dc in the next ch-sp.

Ch 1, dc in the next dc.

(Shown here with dc in the next st also. Back side of motif visible)

Chain (4) an equal number of chains over the motif in the next (round) row to continue the pattern.

(Front side of motif shown)

  It was created for the Soap Saver - What else would you use this pattern for? I've already got some ideas of my own...

Happy Crocheting!

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