Monday, May 23, 2016

I Found It!

  Dear Diary - Oops, I mean Blog Readers - Sometimes I feel like a failure. And when I'm feeling that way, I have a difficult time getting things done. I don't mean in a whole-life kind of way, just in a crochet way. Simple flowers. All I needed to create were some simple flowers, but I haven't been able to work up any that have sparked the "that's the one" feeling. I tried designing my own. I scoured the internet and worked up a hundred free patterns from across the web. I ripped them all out and went back to designing my own.

  And I've finally found it: The perfect flower for Mom's Afghan. Adding to my peace of mind, I've also found the perfect coffee mug and scented candle, but I just liked how they looked in the picture and they really have nothing else to do with this post (lol). The original plan was to make the flowers using surface crochet. I even worked some funky open chain spaces at the corners of my joins, because that was supposed to be the base of the flowers. I wanted something with texture, but not too puffy. And when I started creating the surface crochet flowers on the afghan, I learned that they were going to be too puffy.

crochet, coffee, candles, Mom's Afghan

  So, like Goldie Locks trying to find perfection in a furniture warehouse, I tried another one and another one... I tried about two dozen ways to work the surface crochet, but it either pulled a little, it was too textured, not textured enough, or just wasn't what I had in mind. The good thing about surface crochet, like any embellishment, is that you can decide to skip it if you don't want it. But when you need that embellishment to cover the open spaces you made specifically for it, you better figure something else out.

crochet, flowers, Mom's Afghan

  Of course, I could make this easy and just work some random motif... But in the back of my mind - No, it needs flowers. I decided to work the flowers as separate pieces and sew them in place. First try - Too frilly. Second try - Petals are too pointy. Third try - I don't like the center... Again and again, I ripped apart my work in frustration. I gave up on the idea of flowers and started working on the vines I planned. They wouldn't work out right, either.

  I apologized to Dad for the delay in the blanket, and he thought maybe it was a sign that I shouldn't add flowers. I moved on to more ideas, but still in the back of my mind I had that thought that was more like a command: It needs flowers. But the voice in my head isn't pushing for any vines, so I gave up on them and went back to flowers. Finally, the TV Tornado incident forced me to set the project aside, and that lead to picking up a different project (the squishy rubber rug). At least I completed something.

  I guess that's what I needed. The day after completing the rug, I got back to creating those flowers. I worked out a center that paired well with the open spaces, and decided to keep it the same and make the petals fit somehow... I worked out a few variations for them, and it inspired a new "make your own" pattern that I'll put up soon.

flowers, crochet, Mom's Afghan

  Although not as realistic as I had hoped for, these simple flowers are quick to make and easy to adjust. They have a bit of depth to add character, as you can see in the photo above. But the biggest thing I was looking for was smush-ability... Meaning, they should flatten out easily. And then go back to being textured again, too. I think to have all that, plus be realistic, is just too much to ask. At least I got the textured-but-smushable part right:

crochet, flowers, Mom's Afghan

  The open center not only fits perfectly over the places I created for the surface crochet, it saves yarn, too. What I couldn't save is that poor piece of scrap I was using to "create, rip, repeat" during the grueling design process. Who knew simple flowers would end up being so difficult?

  All that's left is to sew the flowers to the afghan using the tails. And then weave in any extra ends, because I keep finding a few that I've missed. Also, there's still the idea of adding vines... Maybe I'll forget about that, because I may never get it done. Simple squares for a simple afghan, and simple flowers to embellish it: That's all I really wanted. I need to learn how to keep my creativity from going into overdrive. Perhaps deciding to call Mom's Afghan "done" after the addition of the flowers would be a good start. It's what the nagging voice in the back of my head is telling me to do now. I like it better when it does that, so my new coffee mug won't get overused and the candle won't be burned down to nothing...

crochet, coffee, candles, flowers, Mom's Afghan

  Aw, who am I kidding? That will happen anyway! I have a ton of crochet to catch up on, and still need to get back to the beginner's series. My change of mentality should help me move on with that, because there's just some things I need to let go of in order to move on. The backdrop I use for videos got destroyed (again), and I'm not going to bother replacing it again until I get my office done. 

Sometimes you have accept that you need to move backwards and return to simpler times before you can progress again. 

Or maybe, sometimes you have to build a wall to get people and pets to respect your work space... 

I wanted to end on something inspirational, but now I'm just confused. Maybe the answer is a little of both. I know I'll figure it out eventually.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Step at a Time

  Sometimes when you're stuck on something, you just have to move on to something else. The simple surface crochet flowers that I was going to add to Mom's Afghan aren't working out for me, and the delay left me the opportunity to get into another project... Well okay, Dad surprised us with my grandma's old TV, and that kinda forced me to rearrange my whole living room, which lead to a bit of de-cluttering, and the finding of some forgotten material. Then I surprised myself by actually finishing a project!

crochet, rubber yarn, floor mat

  So, the material was more like discarded, not forgotten. Remember the rubber yarn project? I'm not surprised if not, because I recycled it over a year ago. This friction-filled rubber material had so much potential to become something cool, but I found it way too difficult to work with. I set the ball aside waiting for my hands to heal enough to hold up to the tension, and it became nothing more than some clutter in a basket. During the event now known as the TV Tornado, I decided it was time to create with it or throw it out.

crochet, rubber yarn, recycle a rubber ball

  This project was perfect for me in many ways: (1) I knew I couldn't create much with the little material I had, so once it's done, it's done. It was motivating to have a quick finish in sight. (2) On a related note, the monstrous gauge (1 stitch = over 1" wide) of the thick material would produce something in no time. I needed a project to finish, to give me that "I did it" feeling that I'm not getting with the afghan. (3) My hands were about as good as they get, so I needed to get this finished before RA attacks again. (4) The Other Half hasn't heard a word I've said since the TV got hooked up, so this tension-filled project helped me through my anger. (5) My feet hurt. I need a squishy mat. What could be more perfect than this ridiculous material?

rubber yarn, crochet, floor mat

  It was a mental and physical workout to complete. The simple granny rectangle wasn't working out as smoothly as I hoped, because the material is cut unevenly. I worked out three rounds to the snoring serenade of The Other Half, the material became thinner, and the project started to curl. Already beat from the friction and weight of the material, I ripped out what I had done, rolled it back up, and stopped to cook dinner in hopes of making eye contact with my husband for the first time that day. More TV after dinner lead me to pick up the project again, but I could feel how sore I was after the break. I took it easy and worked out two rounds of a double crochet/chain-1 pattern before bed.

crochet, finger crochet, rubber yarn

  I gave up on the idea of using a hook and worked this up with finger crochet, but I still needed help to get it done. When I first created this material I was using baby oil to combat the friction, but this time I opted for some petroleum jelly. Even with that, I was left with a raw spot on my index finger that was close to becoming a blister. I took a picture of the two tools I needed to complete this project, which lead me to the conclusion that this is one of the weirdest crochet projects, ever. It's not yarn, you don't use a hook, and what in the world is that other thing I have?

Vaping, crochet, box mod, petroleum jelly

  Well, that's not something that everybody needs to complete a project like this, but it's what got me through it. With all the stress that life has been throwing at me, I've lost my fight to remain a non-smoker. I lit one up in a moment of weakness, and once again found it impossible to stop at just one. Knowing that going outside for a smoke stops me from working, that's the last thing I need when I'm trying to catch up with all my neglected projects. My Big Bro introduced me to the world of "vaping", so now I'm using this box-thingy and some nicotine-free liquid instead of lighting up. It's fighting the cravings, and I can vape while I keep working so I don't miss a second of The Other Half's snoring.

  I'm not saying "hey kids, it's fun, start vaping!", but I do recommend giving it a try if you are a smoker. There's a lot of hype out there, but there are some risks, too. Educate yourself about what is and isn't safe about it, go get a real setup at a good shop, and realize that it won't be the same as smoking. But it's so much less-bad for you.

  As for the rest of you, I'm introducing you to my new bad habit in case you see that thingy in some pictures. Since I've already had one person freak out about it, I'd like to let you know it's not a bong. It's called a "box mod", and I'm just using it to fight the urge to smoke. I'm keeping this thing at hand like Bob Dole's pen, and I don't always clean off my work space before taking progress photos. Just so you know... Box mod. Not a bong.

  I know... I'm mentally slapping myself, saying "why'd you even pick one up again you dumb...", and vaping is just another bad habit, but the stress has got to me. Sometimes crochet just isn't enough to help, and other times crochet can be the cause of it. You can go over a year's time on my blog and find the death of my cat, the suicide of a good friend, insane computer problems, and a marriage that almost didn't happen. You can even get a good glimpse into the everyday aggravation of my life with this stress-filled post. Now the deaths of my grandma, dog, and mom in a little over a month's time... I don't have the strength to fight the cravings anymore. You couldn't blame me if it was a bong. But it's not a bong. Just nicotine-free vaping.

  I still have to clean up the aftermath of the TV Tornado, but at least I've got my computer hooked up in the place my office will be. I still don't have everything set up, hence the not-so-great pictures of me working on the couch. I moved all the furniture in one day, so I'm sore from more than my crochet project. Untangling my wires and setting up my speakers is next. However, I did take the time to get Chrome Cast working on the new TV, so I can still enjoy some metal while The Other Half isn't under it's spell.

rubber yarn, crochet, Lamb of God

   So just like everything else, I have to take the road to being a non-smoker (again) one step at a time. It feels good to finish a project, and that helps with the stress. It also feels good to dig my toes into this bouncy, squishy mat. I was only able to make it 18" by 20" before running out of material, but it's now a finished object instead of corner clutter. It's interesting to look at, rather messy, and twisted in a few spots. But you can stretch it thin, walk all over it, or toss it aside, and it will just bounce right back. I love how my crochet projects often reflect my personality.

  If I had to do it all over again, I think I would toss the exercise ball in the trash instead of going through all this work. Although having to put some muscle into my crochet helped me work out my frustrations, I just don't feel like it was worth all that work for this tiny little mat. (And it weighs five pounds!) But I'm still enjoying it's squishy-ness, and the project has definitely been cat-approved.

cats, crochet, rubber yarn, floor mat

crochet, cats, rubber yarn, floor mat

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 5

  I'm still finding it difficult to get back to anything serious, but I realized that I let this series drop off with more posts to go. Since it's been a while, you may have forgotten or missed the previous posts about the dog-eaten notebook and the lost files on a hard drive... You can go back to the start by clicking here.

  There's a lesson to be taught from my not-so-great beginner projects. And there's a mystery left to be solved! In the third "episode" of The Lost Crochet Files, I shared a photo of a project that appears to be slightly inappropriate. Well, here you go, have another of these horrible designs:

  Once again, no, they aren't panties. But yes, that's what they look like. Now that I found a picture of another version, I know what the not-panties-but-looks-like-panties thing is from LCF 3. We could run down the list of descriptions such as "Bad design" and "What were you thinking"... I'll just tell you: They were supposed to be head scarves or bandannas - whatever you want to call it - The point was to make a head covering that would wrap around like a bandanna, but be cute and feminine.

  It all started when I made a "real" one for a friend, from a vintage pattern straight out of the 70's. She liked it, but I didn't like how the point of the triangle just flopped around on your head - And even that one was accused of being panties! I set to designing something "better". Now came the idea to include a short chain with a loop at the end, coming from the tip of the point, so that you could run the side-strings through the loop before tying. Yeah, 'cause that won't look more like panties...

  The concept was perfect... No more flopping triangle. But the actual design... Who was I trying to fool? It looks like you're wearing a thong on your head with that extra strand. My beginner self failed to realize that the point should just be longer, so you can tuck it into the ties.

  Of course, this had to induce that over-thinking habit of mine. Let's be honest, those "head scarves" kinda sucked... But they worked. And I finished them. I realized that I've developed a bit of perfectionism with my advanced skills, and I'm forever ripping out half-finished projects. These "fails" prove that I was just having fun with yarn and experimenting, instead of worrying about creating that "perfect" project.

  So, I decided to pull up another old photo - But one that has been shared a long time ago here on the blog. Another plarn project, but this one was more of an experiment than a "project". I wanted to use clear produce bags instead of bulkier grocery bags, but I wasn't sure how it would work out or hold up. Some cutting and crocheting later, I had a "dream catcher".

  The reasons for the experiment: Find out how easily the material will break, what kind of resistance it creates on the hook, what the ideal width to cut it would be, and how long it would last in the sun. Yes, I'm curious about things like that last one, because they say it takes 20 years-or-so for a grocery bag to decompose. Is the plastic of a produce bag the same? I don't know, so I started an experiment. I even added another test in there when I decided to give it more character with some permanent marker.

  I was just working out a semi-transparent mesh circle when I thought "this would make a cool sun-catcher". Simply because I collect dream catchers, the sun catcher idea was quickly altered into a dream catcher instead of a plain circle. Okay, so as dream catchers go, this looks like... Well, insert your own description there because mine has four letters and I don't use that language here. Even as horrible as it is, it still hangs in my window. Okay, so now it's more like a forgotten dust catcher and it isn't so pretty. It never really was pretty. (And neither is my window... Eww.)

 The point is that I was having fun and completing a project. It might be a bit embarrassing to look back and see some of the monstrosities I created as a beginner, but I enjoy the laugh, too. I'm not ashamed to say that I was learning. I just learned a lot of it the hard way.

Happy Crocheting!

Blog Archive