Friday, June 26, 2015

Yarn Review: Peaches & Creme


  I used this Peaches & Creme cotton yarn to make my Scallop Seashell Washcloths, and now I'm working on another pattern with it again. (I'm also finally working on that tutorial for the washcloths!) I figured it's time to get my review done for this yarn, since my opinion is now set. To put it simply: It gets my top rating!


  I will say that I had one slight problem, but I think it falls on my decision and has nothing to do with the quality of Peaches & Creme. It was a color-thing. Follow along and I'll explain:


These are the colors I picked out - from the internet - for a project. The one thing I hate about internet yarn-shopping is that you can't see the product for yourself before you buy. I scrapped the original project I had planned because of this color combination, but the Scallop Seashell Washcloths were created instead.



You can find Peaches & Creme from under $2 to over $3 per ball. Prices vary across sites, but I think it's a good deal per yard as long as you get it under $3. 




You'll get more yards per ball if you stick to solid colors, but I couldn't pass up the Pastel Delight Ombre you see here. Unfortunately, these colors are now unavailable - I purchased them on clearance at the end of the season - But that's not the color problem I was talking about...




This is the color-thing I was talking about. I had to play with a few light settings to get this right - but this is what the Orchid color really looks like. In person, the purple isn't so bright, and it has a dusty-grey appearance. In photos, it looks nice paired with the Pastel Delight. In natural light, it makes you say "yuck" when they're combined.




The Pastel Delight, however, stays pretty in any light. Although my original project got scrapped because of Orchid's appearance, the Pastel Delight's beach-y pastels inspired my Scallop Seashell Washcloths. (And that means I still have the Orchid to design something else!)




Anyway, let's cover the technical stuff now: Peaches & Creme is worsted weight (4) cotton, machine washable, and dryer safe. The label warns that "some colors may run", and it's right! I had no problem with Pastel Delight running, but the Orchid did. I imagine this could be a problem with the darker colors. 




And I'm sorry that I don't know of a term to properly describe the texture of Peaches & Creme, so I'll try explain what I mean: This yarn contradicts itself - in a good way. It has a firm twist with an almost coarse texture, until you work it up. Then, it becomes soft and drape-y, with a minimal amount of fuzz. And holds up well to open, lacy designs, while making textured stitches pop like crazy.  


  So in conclusion, color was my only disappointment after working with Peaches & Creme - but it will only lead to another pattern for me. It's a good deal, it's durable, and makes great washcloths, as well as accessories. I like a yarn that's versatile like that. Now, if only they had more colors available!

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday


Working from Home with Pets
A few tips, no matter what your job or hobby is...


  Every crocheter/knitter has cats, right? Well, that's what some people say... But we all know it's not always true. Maybe your pet is a dog or a bird; maybe it's a possum or a rock. Or, maybe you don't knit or crochet, and you found yourself here on accident while searching "work from home". And, I suppose you could be a human that hasn't been adopted by a pet. No matter who you are, you may find this post helpful.


  Feel free to replace the distractions here to fit your own situation, as needed: For you, it might be kids instead of cats. That's pretty close, since both think they require the same amount of attention. Perhaps you have a needy boyfriend instead of a dog - close enough - Either way, you might find yourself listening to lots of whining and often giving back scratches. If you have a needy boyfriend along with a dog, you may find it easier to crate train them at the same time... 


  And even if you don't work from home, you might still relate to some of this. It could be bill paying, cleaning out the fridge, or trying to share your latest project on social media - We all know we love them, but let's admit it: Pets/kids/needy boyfriends can get in the way of what you're trying to do. That's life as an adult human. Here's some ways you can deal with it: 




Before we begin, let me introduce you to the star of today's post, in case you haven't met her before: Lucky is my daughter's cat, aka the Queen of the Cats, aka the Spoiled Brat, aka Mama. But for me, she only answers to "treats".  





Specifically, if you're a cat owner, you know this look: "This is mine!"
"No, that's not yours. That's a charity donation, and you need to get your butt off of it."
Having someone or something to distract your pet, or a separate area to remove them to while taking photos is a must! Unless you have a weird cat that doesn't stick it's nose into all your business. If so: What's wrong with your cat? Doesn't it know it's supposed to be messing up what you're doing?





And we know this look, too: "You're not paying attention to me".
"Never mind the 20 minutes I spent brushing you this morning, and the treats, and the catnip..."
Know when to choose your battles. If kitty decides that a foot is all she wants, then give kitty a foot. You'll get more work done this way than if you're fighting with the distraction.




"Hey... Hey... Yo, human! Why aren't you paying attention to me?"
"Because it's computer time. I'm writing and I don't need your claws in my leg while you knead."
If you have a choice, make your office in a place that is removed from pets or other distractions. My "office" is my living room, right next to the dog's bed and the other half's television. It makes for some pretty unproductive time.




"It doesn't matter if you try your new fish-eye lens while I stick my tongue out. I'm still not getting off of you."
"Okay!"
Make an opportunity of distractions, if possible. Your boss at your corporate job probably wouldn't appreciate cute cat pictures along with your next quarterly report. But if your work is artistic, and especially if you're a fellow blogger, never underestimate the power of silly pet pictures. It doesn't matter if you write the most detailed, informative article about the most popular subject: You'll probably get more comments over the post with the adorable kitten in it.




"Okay, now you're just using me to promote your business."
"Sorry. I promise I'll give you 5 extra minutes of brushing in return."
If your distraction wants to be part of what you're doing, try to work them into it! Let's say that I wanted to create an ad that has the phrase "Learn crochet with Crochet is the Way!" over a display photo. Which would grab more attention - A plain motif on a white background, or a cat wearing the motif as a hat? The cat ad WINS.




"Oh, you dropped this paper... Let me hold it down for you!"
"Why?"
I really have no solution for this problem. Cats like paper. Some dogs and needy boyfriends do, too. Just give them their own piece of paper and hope that it distracts them long enough.





"Please can I go chase the turtle? Please, please, please?"
"NO."
"Okay, I'm gonna go chase the turtle anyways!"
Don't let planned breaks become a day off. The dog gets three 15 minute outside breaks during my workday - But he can't tell time! I can let him run loose on my fenced five acres, but he often gets into trouble. A 15 minute walk can turn into half an hour of getting him away from the tortoise hole, or an emergency bath, or even worse: A neighbor that doesn't understand that working from home means working, and wants to talk. Sometimes, putting the dog on a leash and walking him where I want to go is easier. 





"I may or may not be plotting your death because you included the dog in this post. I'm at least planning on taking over the world. And you'll find me in your clean laundry later today. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
"Just remember where your dinner comes from."
(Try to) teach them some respect, but at the same time, make sure they're well taken care of. If you know your distraction is going to bother you for breakfast when you sit down to check your email, then get feeding time out of the way before you think about starting. Changing your schedule a little can save you more time in the end.



  In conclusion: If you work from home and you have pets, there's really no hope for you - Animals don't understand what "work" is! When you need to work and they distract you, remember that they have needs, too. Besides food, water, and shelter, your pet wants mental stimulation and love. Unless your pet is a rock - then you might get away with moving it once in a while to keep it happy. 


To keep your sanity: 

  • Use your spare time to share cute cat pictures on social media. 

  • Dress your pets up in your creations to promote your business.  


  • Try to get your pet on a schedule - And by that, I mean completely adjust your schedule to comply with the pets demands.





  On a serious note: If you're a fiber artist and you sell your work, make sure your customers know that you have pets! I treat my creations with an anti-allergen cleaner, then follow up with a dye-free, fragrance-free detergent, but I still make sure people know that my household isn't pet-free. Pet fur and dander can still get onto your work, even if you keep it away from their areas. People with allergies or asthma need to know of the possible exposure.


  We all have work to get done. But please, don't ignore your pet. An extensive study has shown that neglecting your cat can result in disappearance of crochet tools and attempts at world domination. Other studies have shown that neglecting your dog may cause mysterious holes to appear in your yard or make area rugs flip over. A recent experiment even proved that neglecting your pet rock can result in severe dust collection.


...And by "studies" and "experiment", I mean that's what happens at my house, but I'm pretty confident that my studies could have similar results elsewhere.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, June 19, 2015

WBS Progress: Four Blankets Shipped!


And the rest of the stuff I missed... Like a tutorial!


  Since I was in a rush to finish the Granny Square Blanket and get my donations mailed to the World's Biggest Stocking Project, I didn't cover the final assembly of the squares in the last post. So in this post, you'll get a bunch more "blah, blah, blah", along with a great tutorial!


  Even though the $5,000 contest is coming to a close, more blankets are still needed for the Stocking! I plan on making eight more before the project is over, but I'll be taking a break for a bit. Yesterday was the first day I didn't pick up any crochet in... Um... In a really long time! I'd love to tell you that I used my crochet-free day to do something awesome, but in reality, I cleaned my house. Yay. Actually, I could count some of it as crochet work, because a lot of my time was spent organizing my WIP's (work in progress). I also spent some time putting together a tutorial for you, so let's move along!



It was almost a disaster, but I was able to save it! One Granny Square Blanket completed, and already shipped to the World's Biggest Stocking.





Here are the squares that I messed up. The border of the Red Squares and the centers of the Navy squares were worked with a smaller size I/9 hook. Everything else was worked with a size J/10 hook. At this point, I had only worked up to the last row of double crochet for each square.





When I first stacked them up and took a look, I thought I'd be able to go back to one hook size for the last round of single crochet. They look pretty close, don't they?





Nope, wrong! I worked the border of a Red and a Navy Square with the same size J/10 hook. It threw it off even more! I frogged the round I had made on the Red square and worked it with the smaller size I/9 hook. Perfect! I made the remaining Royal square all with a J/10 hook.





As for how I assembled the squares, I worked through both loops of both pieces to pull the whole thing together a bit. I began by working in the back loops, but that caused the pieces to (unexpectedly) ripple. 





Working through both loops solved the problem! I really expected to have better results by using the back loops, but I was wrong. Thankfully, I had only joined four squares before I noticed the problem. To avoid the extra thickness of the seam, I used a single crochet-two-together to join them.





Which leads to that tutorial! First, let me be clear that I would never claim this pattern as my own - but since I strayed from the pattern and used my own method for joining the squares, I took the opportunity to make a Guidecentral guide for the stitch!




  Call me a sell-out if you want to. But for picture-heavy tutorials like this one, it's less work for me, and works better for you on Guidecentral. Plus, I have more due in bills this month than money in the bank right now, and that's because of the yarn for this charity project! So, you don't mind clicking a link for that tutorial, do you?
  You'll also get a bonus learning how to begin the row with a standing single crochet (which is actually a standing-single-crochet-two-together), and I'll show you how to work over the tail, too! This stitch makes one flat side and one textured side, which can be adjusted by working into the front, back, or both loops of the stitch.



  Are you back? Now, let's see how I shipped those blankets!




Vacuum-sealed bags, yay! I picked up a box of these at a discount store for less than $5. I figured I could let go of one of them to ship these blankets. The plan was to stuff them into one of those "If it fits, it ships" boxes to save some money, but even mushed down like this, they didn't fit.




I had to buy a regular shipping box for them to fit. And had to pay regular shipping. And (ouch!) that came to almost $20. I arrived at the post office excited and happy to be shipping the blankets, and left feeling a little... Broke (lol), but still happy! So, remember to give that Guide a "like" for me, so I can make a few cents back, okay?





Yarn to make four blankets for the World's Biggest Stocking: $75.
Cost to ship the blankets to the Project: $20.
Amount I could possibly win thanks to the Stitch for the Stocking contest: $5,000.
That feeling that you get when you donate to those in need:
Priceless.






Happy Crocheting!


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