Friday, July 8, 2016

Joining Fabric Strips

  I've been working on a huge recycled sheet project, and it's time to share the truth about such things: It takes more work to make your material than it does to crochet the project. If you want to make fabric strips the "right" way (to reduce the amount of fraying and ensure they stay together), then you'll need to cut the fabric on the bias and spend a lot of time sewing. That's not for me, and my bias strips fray anyways. For those of you who don't mind the thread bits and want to save some time, I'd like to show you my trick for joining fabric strips with a smoother join, no sewing needed.

fabric scrap yarn, recycled fabric yarn, sheet yarn, how to

  The threads get messy while cutting and crocheting, but the fraying stops once the project is worked up. If you wanted to spend the time trimming all the bits from the finished project, you could... But just like cutting and joining the "right" way, that's not for me. (And wow, that would take forever! You might as well spend the time making bias strips instead.) I think the threads give it extra style, like the fraying bottoms of cut-offs that haven't been hemmed.

sheet yarn, recycled fabric, fabric scrap yarn, how to join

  So, here's my work in all it's glory; I won't hide the mess from you. The ends of the strips are sloppy, threads are everywhere, and I don't even cut the material straight. But the joins are strong and smooth, plus one simple extra step will help you avoid tails popping out. It may not be as pretty as working with bias strips, but it gets the job done more quickly.

  The one thing I actually do that isn't sloppy is wind the material up as I go; otherwise, I'm always left with piles of tangles. You don't have to wind your fabric yarn, but I do recommend it if you'll be making all the material before you begin crocheting.

how to, fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn
You'll need to cut a slit in all the ends of the strips. I do so as I'm creating the material, but you may want to do it as you join the strips. My strips are about 1" wide, and I make the cut 1" from the end. Test to make sure the cut won't rip out easily before making slits in all the strips.

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to
Run the end of strip 'B' through the slit in strip 'A'. (If you do it backwards and pull strip 'A' through the slit of strip 'B', don't worry! It works the same both ways.)

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to
Now, here's your trick: If you run the short tail of 'A' (the rest of the strip past the cut) through the slit in strip 'B', then you'll get a knot that smooths out into a tube shape. If you skip that step, the tail gets stuck inside the knot and makes it thick and lumpy. I like to make it easy by pinching the short tail of 'A' together with the opposite end of 'B', and running them together through the slit.

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to
So, you should have both the short tail of 'A' and the opposite end of 'B' ran through the first slit in strip 'B'. Now, pull the opposite end of 'B' through until there's no more material.

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to
I like to give the tails a pull to straighten them out, which makes one tail curl over the strip. The other tail usually curls in the opposite direction, so don't fight it.

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to
As you crochet up to the knot, fold the tail inside of the strip, and you won't have to worry about the tail popping out at all.

-  -  -  -  -

  Is it the best way? No. But it's the way that gets it done for me. I'm not good at sewing, and I have a ton of material to cut up with no help. So when I have time, I sit on the floor with a scrap piece of plywood and my rotary cutter, and cut... And cut, and cut, and cut. It took me a whole day to cut a king-sized fitted sheet into strips. Then it took me more than a day to join them all. And I still have two more sheets to cut up for the project. No, it's not the "best" way, but if I do it any other way, I'll never get it done. 

fabric scrap yarn, sheet yarn, how to

It always seems like such a great idea when I'm looking at my old sheets and wondering what I should do with them... "Yay, let's recycle and crochet something!" But after hours on the floor cutting and joining and I'm still only finished with one sheet, all I can think of is getting back to

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, June 27, 2016


  Ah, yellow... Such a bright, happy color, isn't it? It makes you think of sunshine and flowers, lemonade and bumblebees... All those things that trigger memories of fun in the sun. Well, I'm here to tell you that I absolutely hate yellow right now. And blue, red, green, or any of the other colors that trigger horrible allergies for me.

yellow, crochet, bullion stitch

  I know, when you read that opening, you thought it would be a fun, happy post about summertime, right? Sorry. But I promise the griping will end soon. Right now, I have a not-fun summertime bug. And many years ago I was diagnosed with an allergy to yellow food dyes. Later it was discovered that I seem to be allergic to just about any color of a lot of kinds of dyes. Do you know why it really sucks to be allergic to dyes? Because they're in food, soap, lotions, laundry detergent, dish soap, aaaaaannnnnnnd cold medicine.

  To combat most of these problems, I've found quite a few brands that carry dye-free, fragrance-free products. And I make my own laundry soap, stay away from anything that looks artificially colored (no candy for me!), and spend tons of time reading ingredients in stores.

  I don't know what it is about yellow, but I'm definitely the most allergic to that color. It doesn't matter if it's in food or soap, yellow #5, 10, lake, or any of the other kinds of yellow dyes that exist. I even get a reaction from working with certain yellow yarns, like the one I'm trying to use up in tutorials. There's no way I could ever make something for myself with this stuff.

crochet, bullion stitch

  That would be a preview of the bullion stitch tutorial you were going to see soon, which was going to have a video. I took the pictures I needed, then had to charge my battery. I set up my area to film, but had a coughing fit. Uh oh, not good. The Other Half has been sick, but I never worry much about catching things. One good thing about having rheumatoid arthritis is the kick-butt immune system you get with it. I almost-never get sick. Almost-never. Long story short, I went from fine to so-sick-I-can't-make-a-video in less than an hour.

  I'm not giving up on the video, so I'm holding off on the tutorial. The poor Other Half has been to the store and the pharmacy three times, only to bring back something I can't take - They seem to put yellow, or my second-worst allergy, red, in every single cold medication. My usual honey and lemon natural remedy isn't enough for this crud. He found a dye-free cough syrup, but I need something that will help the horrible aches, pains, and headache that came along with the low-grade fever. But since he was actually told by a pharmacist that the dyes wouldn't hurt me because they were listed under inactive ingredients - OMG, where did you get your degree? - I'm done with finding a medication that will help. It's time to just tough it out.

  I tried to work out a motif while relaxing in my chair, since I'm kind of stuck on that square until I can make the video... Crochet, rip, crochet, nap, stare at the TV while nothing makes sense, crochet, rip again, work out a stitch count on paper, crochet, and nap some more. I was really happy with the design, but my stitch count is off somewhere. But, it's okay. Even though there will be more ripping back, I have it worked out on paper and it's going to be awesome.

crochet, motif

  So, I guess I was able to make something good out of my misery. I still haven't got the finished Mom's Afghan to dad, because I packed it in a bag as soon as I heard that first cough from The Other Half. The bullion stitch tutorial is on hold, and I'm not even working on what's left to be done on the Love Knot shawl. With the fuzziness in my brain, I can't seem to focus on anything that is supposed to be getting done. But hey, a weird design seen in a fever dream led to the creation of another motif. There's always a bright side, after all.

Happy Crocheting!
(PS - If you didn't catch on, I'm admitting to starting another project, even though I had set that goal to finish all WIP's before starting another project. You can yell at me if you want, but I'm blaming it on the cold.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

That Feeling When...

  If you're on any kind of social media, then chances are you've seen a "that feeling when" meme. Over the past few days, I've had a lot of "that feeling when" yarn-y moments. I'm willing to bet that a few of you have been in my shoes, so I thought I'd complain about share what's going on.

crochet, yarn stash

That feeling when someone is willing to pay the price for a handmade item...
I was as content as this little elephant seems to be.

That feeling when you find out the yarn company is running a site-wide sale, so you can get the yarn for less...

That feeling when you find out the color you need is out of stock...

That feeling when you search other sites to find out they don't carry that color...
That would just be a photo of a one-finger salute, so let's not go with a picture there.

That feeling when you remember you should have some of that color/brand in your yarn stash...
That feeling when you open the containers...
Oh, no.
yarn stash

  There's more to it than just what you see there. And now, I'm over the feelings. It's time for a lot of sorting, untangling, and winding. I swear The Troll gets in there and messes it all up when I'm sleeping. I just did this a few months ago, and I've only been in that bin twice since organizing it! 

  On the other hand, the second bin is still nice and neat. But like that weird way a bowl of spaghetti seems to grow as you eat it... I can't make a dent in that container, despite using 15 - 20 skeins on Mom's Afghan.

  Although I never found the yarn I needed in my stash, I did start to get everything organized again. The Troll should have fun tonight. I have a new feeling that what I'm looking for is in one of my other boxes of WIP's. I'm not going there. 

  Believe it or not, that WIP bin is organized, by category: Works in progress that are actually in progress are in separate bags, stacked in order by "less work to finish" first. Unfinished objects that require ripping out are stuffed in by random order, and then there's a pillow form that's for a WIP, so it counts as organized.

  There is a lesson to be learned, but I'm not sure if I'll ever pass the test... Take the time to keep things in order, and organize as you go. I can blame it on The Troll, but I'm probably the real culprit. Keeping my yarn stash in these plastic totes is a great way to keep it safe from cats and dust, but you can see that an extra filing system is needed here. The bin with the yarn organized by color and kept separated with bags stays organized. But the random "throw it in a box" method isn't working for the rest of the stash.

How do you keep your yarn and WIP's organized? Or is your stash a mess like mine? 

If you're a Stash Slob like me, let's make a goal to do something about it. Yarn is our friend, right? Let's treat it better! I'm going to take just one hour a week and dedicate it to untangling, winding, or ripping out (which leads to more winding). Don't have an hour? How about ten minutes? C'mon! Being able to get to your yarn faster will lead to more

Happy Crocheting!  

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