Friday, January 29, 2016

Helping Hands

  Will I ramble today? Probably, but I'd like to explain that later for my faithful readers... (I'll put it at the end, so you can skip it if you don't care.) Let's get to the main problem: I'm a little stuck in a situation right now, so I'm trying to make the best of it. Honestly? I know I told you guys I'd be taking care of it over the holidays, but only some of my Scarves of the Month have been sent off for donations. The remainder that were supposed to go to Bridge and Beyond in Ohio... Well, they're still sitting here, just like me.

scarf, crochet, free pattern, charity, donation

  The Other Half is still driving my car. After the surprise-potential-buyer fiasco, he took the tag off his truck, and there it sits. I made him a deal that if he sold his truck and let me use the money to fix my truck, I'll give him my car. Pretty good deal for him, right? The car is worth more than the value of both our trucks put together, but I just don't want my car. I hate driving it so much, that I don't. I'm a confident driver in most vehicles, but for some reason I'm full of anxiety when driving the car. And I keep stomping the floor where the clutch should be and grabbing for a stick that doesn't exist, which adds to my anxiety. Even if he wasn't driving it to work every day, I'd probably still sit here, waiting for the weekend to come so he can drive me to town.

I hate that. (But at least I get to crochet while he's driving!)

  So, if it had power steering, I'd drive the hubby's truck and go mail my scarves. Since I can't turn the wheel, it's a little hard to drive, lol. (Ah, ha! Maybe that's why he's still driving the car - He hurt his hand, and I bet he just doesn't want to admit that it hurts to drive! Men...) We were supposed to go to the post office last weekend, but an emergency repair got in the way. Instead of sitting here grumbling about it, I'm doing something better with the extra time. I hopped on the Bridge and Beyond blog to get in contact with them, and I realized that I could provide an extra helping hand... Or two.

crochet, gloves, charity, donation

  *Side note to self: Remember to contact them again! I've been having computer/internet trouble like CRAZY! It's been a week since I used the contact form on their blog, and I haven't heard back. Something tells me they didn't get my message. From what I've seen in her posts, this lady is on top of stuff. I've sent countless emails and written comments over the past weeks that just disappear (everywhere, not just on their blog), while other stuff still works fine.

  Anyway, some of the things I want to donate are a little off of their specifications, so I need to know what they do and don't want. I've also read before that Sandy has pet allergies, so I'd like to make sure she's aware I do have pets, even though I'm going to launder everything one more time prior to sending. I always clean my donations with non-allergenic detergent, and my laundry "room" (shed) is outside, so stuff goes from the laundry to the car - No contact with pets after washing. But still, I had one lady that knew I have cats, and had a "reaction" to a gift... Nobody else (some with allergies) has ever had a problem. I still let people know, just in case.

  While I wait for the opportunity to get to the post office, I'm trying to finish an extra small item each day. Okay, so I'm really finishing an item every other day, because it took me a day to make each of those gloves... But the gloves started the mission! To tell the truth, I was designing them for me. But I messed up a little. Not accounting for the stretch of the stitch, the fingers of the gloves are way too long for my little hands. I'm really hoping that Sandy will accept them as a donation, because they're a perfect color, nice and warm, and would surely fit a man with longer hands.

crochet, hat,

  I made a hat after that, with the remainder of the yarn from a scarf. I missed a stitch in one round that didn't cause a problem until three rounds later, so I had to rip it out. Another one-day project sat overnight and became a two-day affair. I'm still thinking of ripping it back to make it a little smaller and longer... Just like the gloves, I didn't consider how stretchy it would be.

  After finishing the hat, I started some mittens. I've never crocheted mittens before, so I think they could be better. I've never worn mittens, either, so I really have no clue. The Other Half hails from a snowy place, and he says they're fine. Which, of course, makes me think that they probably couldn't be more wrong. (You should see the monstrosity of a ski mask I made him while following his requests!) Still, they fit over a thumb, and stay on a hand, so I guess they work as mittens, right?

crochet, mittens, charity, donation

  I'm still working a little at a time on the pile of WIP's I cleaned out of the chair. Mostly, I stuffed them in a plastic bin. At least they're off the chair! No, seriously... At least I'm getting these smaller items for donation finished, and they're not just becoming more UFO's. And the bigger, more labor-intensive projects, well... They'll get done, a little at a time. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, so I'm finding it difficult to finish large projects.

  Being able to add some extra items to my donation seems to be more important right now. Not only am I more motivated about the smaller projects, I'm also cleaning out more of that yarn stash. After reading on their blog that gloves and mittens are severely needed, I have an idea to re-dedicate the Scarf of the Month program to making gloves this year. I can finish a pair of gloves faster than a scarf, it takes less yarn, and if they're needed more, then I shall provide. I just need to get it right this time. I'm off to crochet more!

...But will I make it to the post office? We might not be able to drive out by this weekend! (I have a friend that lives close by, and happens to work practically-right-next-to the post office. If I can't get there on Saturday, then hopefully I can get him to help!)

flooding, cold weather, crochet

  *Hey, what about that explanation for those that care?! (Lol) Please pardon my disorganized writing/thoughts right now! I'm still running on coffee and three hours of sleep a day or less, and it's taking a toll on my concentration - I've noticed, so I'm sure you do, too. It's not insomnia, it's insufficient time. If only there was a drug that added about 4 hours to a day - I think I'd take it.

  And then there's the weather... After the last post where I shared our morning of frost and an afternoon in the 80's, it has rained.

flooding, cold weather, crochet

And rained.

flooding, cold weather, pets, dog, crochet

 And... Rained.

plarn, flooding, cold weather, crochet

  Trying to work while exhausted in this gloom; the constant sound of the rain on the metal roof further dulling the senses... And missing my music since my stereo's acting up (I think we got zapped by lightning)... It's hard not to go into a daze, stare out the window, and wish for sunshine. Or a boat. Or ice skates, since there's a chance that it will freeze again this weekend, and the water hasn't gone down... I'll need an extra scarf!

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thanks to Coffee and Crochet

  I live in Florida, right? The land of sunshine and palm trees? The place that northerners come to stay warm in the winter? The Sunshine State? Well, we got our sunshine today, but it sure took it's time warming us up! That's why I was super-thankful for crochet and coffee this morning.

coffee, crochet, scarf, pattern

  Just to be clear: I do live in that part of Florida that has cows, not coastline. But, at least I have one palm tree! I grew up even farther south than this, and only saw frost maybe three or four times before my eighteenth birthday. This is cold-to-me. So, anyway... This morning I had to wake up before 4 a.m. to send the hubby off for an early workday. On early mornings the dog and cats don't care that it's not time to eat yet... I better get in gear and get them fed, which means taking the dog out... In the dark, and this:

frost, cold weather, crochet

  Walking around with my flashlight, the whole yard was sparkling. Even though I hate the cold, it was quite beautiful. Is that what makes people actually want to live in that frozen white stuff you call snow? Maybe I should try to go see it sometime. But only if I can take lots of hot coffee and warm crochet accessories with me!

frost, cold weather, crochet

  At least while walking around in the dark, I can wear my crochet goodies with no fear of ridicule. I hate wearing scarves because every time I do, somebody feels the need to inform me that "it's not snowing, you know"... Yeah but I'm cold, so shut up. I wrapped up in my favorite scarf this morning, and it worked wonderfully to keep the chill off while I walked the dog, and again later when I went out to snap some pictures of the yard.

crochet, scarf, broomstick lace, free crochet pattern

  It's amazing how much happier you can be when you're warm. Usually, I would be walking around sniffling and grumbling about my numb fingers. Just by adding a crocheted hat and scarf to my Florida-snowsuit*, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the frosted yard instead of being completely miserable.

*A Florida "snowsuit" is my million layers that everyone makes fun of, because I don't own any clothes that are really suitable for this weather. My heaviest jacket leaves me cold at 60°. An outfit for seriously cold days before crochet was:

Long-sleeve shirt
Short-sleeve shirt
Toe socks
Regular socks
Old toe socks with-the-toes-cut-off, pulled up as leg-warmers

  I've been told I look like a homeless person. And I don't think that's funny, but I guess you can laugh if you want to. I'm cold, and I'm doing whatever I can to stay warm. Since learning crochet, I add a scarf and a hat, leaving one of the shirts and maybe the hoodie behind. Sometimes I still wear the hoodie, like this morning when it was freezing. And I really could crochet myself some leg warmers, but I kinda like recycling my worn-out toe socks.

frost, cold weather, crochet

  Are you starting to wonder why I'm rambling about what I wear when it's cold? Alright, I'll get to the point: This morning as I was enjoying my favorite scarf, it got me thinking... As soon as the animals are fed and the dog's done outside, I get to go in and be warm. And have COFFEE! I used to work in a steel building with a concrete floor and no heat. I couldn't stand it on cold days. Now, I get to go back in to my heated house, sit down with a cup of coffee, and bury myself in the warmth of my work.

  There's plenty of people that still have to work in that cold, while barely making a living. And there's others that don't have a place of warmth or shelter. So instead of being miserable today, I decided to get to work on some more charity donations. I'll be sharing more about that later... Today is just for coffee and crochet!

frost, cold weather, crochet

Happy Crocheting!

P.S. Welcome to Florida... Frost this morning, and 81° before the sun went down. Ditch the scarf. Still keep the coffee :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

September Scarf of the Month - Chocolate Pocket Scarf

  The Chocolate Pocket Scarf uses basic stitches worked into front and back loops to create simple texture. This is a great pattern for beginners to practice  the double crochet stitch and working into the front and back loops of stitches! The simple pattern repeat makes this a great project to take with when you're on the go. Directions and photo tips are given for the crab stitch border shown, or beginners can follow the instructions for working an easier basic single crochet border.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy

  Make this scarf with the pockets as written, work up an extra long scarf without pockets, or save some yarn and bind off early - This pattern leaves you many choices! The finished length of the version I made with pockets is 78" (195 cm) long. The width as written is 6" (15 cm). You can easily add more stitches for a wider scarf, but this pattern is plenty warm and cozy as-is!

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, beginner, easy, double crochet

Skill level:
crochet, skill level, easy

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I used Red Heart Super Saver in Coffee... *In an effort to clean out my stash, I'm using what's left of a jumbo skein, and I still have a ton left over. (See the picture before the border tutorial to see how much is left!) One regular size skein will be fine for this project. 
Crochet hook size K-9.00MM  or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional, but recommended)

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
13 double crochet
6 rows

free pattern, crochet, scarf, gauge

Chain-3 at beginning of rows always counts as one double crochet.

Use stitch markers to mark pattern repeat. If you choose to not use stitch markers, something like a saftey pin may be desired for creating the pockets.

Tips and pictures included for help with creating the pockets and working the border!


free pattern, scarf, stitch markers

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Foundation Double crochet (FDC) - optional
Double crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc) - for beginner's border
Reverse single crochet/crab stitch (rev sc) - for advanced border

Back loop (b/L)
Front loop (f/L)

Begin/beginning (beg)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)
Repeat (rep)

free pattern, crochet, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy, beginner


Row 1:
Chain 4, make 17 FDC. (Or, you can ch 20, and make 1 dc in each chain beginning in the 4th ch from the hook.) (18 dc)

Row 2:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 FDC.

Row 3:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in b/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 4:
Repeat Row 3.

Row 5:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in the f/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 6: 
Repeat Row 5.

Row 7:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 dc.

Row 8:
Repeat Row 7.

Row 9... (122)
Repeat Rows 3 through 8 to the desired length. Do not bind off; continue to work border and create pockets.

Example repeats pattern 19 times.

free pattern, crochet, scarf, easy, double crochet

If creating pockets, you may want to count your rows and fold them over now, pinning in place with a locking stitch marker of safety pin.

If not creating pockets but you wish to add a border, you can follow these directions without folding the ends over. 

(Advanced border)
To create first pocket - Fold the last 10 rows of the pattern over the next 10 rows. Slip stitch to the 20th side post.
Ch 1 (does not count as stitch). *Make 2 rev sc in each side post, working through both thicknesses to corner of pocket. Make an additional st in the corner sp. Rev sc in the space between each post across. Make 2 more rev sc in corner sp.* 2 rev sc in each post sp up length of scarf, stopping to fold scarf over for pocket at the 20th space from end.  Repeat from * to *, then work 2 rev sc in each sp to beginning ch-1. Join with a sl st to beg rev sc. (See pictures for tips!)

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*I removed the stitch marker from the joining space of the pocket, but here you can see the other marker still in the corner space. Holding the sides together while creating the pockets will save you the headache of missing a space!

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Once you join the spaces to create the pocket, you will chain one before working the reverse single crochet border, working into the same space. The chain-1 does not count as a stitch, unlike in the beginner's border.   

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial, reverse single crochet

*You may still want to mark the chain-1! Once you work the first reverse single crochet, it will twist around. And working into the beginning stitch to join can be difficult! Mark the chain-1 before the beginning stitch so the marker won't be in the way when you join.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Work an extra stitch in the corner space before working across.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*After working across, work an extra stitch in the corner space.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*An extra tip for beginners working the basic single crochet border: You will be working in reverse order of these directions. The second pocket for the advanced border will be the first pocket for you.

crochet, free pattern, scarf, reverse single crochet join, tutorial

*Here's where you can cheat at joining the reverse single crochet. Remember, we're going to skip that difficult-to-find beginning chain, and join in the first rev sc made.

crochet, reverse single crochet join, cheat, tip, tutorial, free pattern, scarf

*Remove the hook from the stitch, and flip the pattern over to the reverse side. Place the working loop back on the hook, and insert the hook in the beginning reverse single crochet as for a basic single crochet. Slip stitch to join, and you're done!

...Well, almost. You still have to bind off and weave in those ends!   

(Beginner's border)
Ch 1 (counts as fist sc). *Make 2 sc in each post space up to the 20th space from the end. To create pocket: Fold over end, work 2 sc through both thicknesses to corner. Make additional sc in corner sp. Make 1 sc in sp between each post across. Make additional sc in corner sp.* Repeat from * to *. Make 2 sc in each remaining space before beginning ch-1. Make 1 sc in same sp as beg ch-1, join with a sl st to ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

**The directions for the border made sense while I was creating the scarf, but after writing it out, I saw room for confusion. Just to be clear: Each pocket will not be 20 rows long - Just 10 rows for the front side of the pocket, and the ten rows that create the back side of the pocket will remain on the body side of the scarf . 

***One last tip!! I find this yarn to be too scratchy for scarves! So, why am I using it for scarves? Because I've found the miracle cure! It's a well-known tip that you can soften scratchy acrylics by using some hair conditioner, but I may have found the best one out there! After running out of the usual cheap stuff, I grabbed my own conditioner to soften some yarn... And the result is: Amazing! It's still cheap to buy, too! And unlike the other cheap stuff I've been using, the yarn stays soft, even after washing it in the laundry without it. Or, you can just keep washing it with this conditioner, so it will be forever scented with its wonderful coconut-y tropical scent... Either way, it will be awesomely soft!
(And no, they're not paying me to say that. It just works!)

crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, easy, beginner, double crochet, simple texture

Happy Crocheting!

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