Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Rug and a Bug

  Are you familiar with the saying "snug as a bug in a rug"? That never made much sense to me... I would think a bug in a rug would always be in fear of being stepped on or vacuumed up... And that's how I feel now. Hurricane Matthew is nearing, and after yesterday's reports of "we're in no danger from this storm", I thought we'd be fine. But today the news has changed to "hunker down", and I'm pretty scared. I rode out Hurricane Andrew in south Florida as a kid. Over a decade ago now, we dealt with four storms (Charley, Francis, Ivan, and Gene) back to back in this area. Now living in a mobile home, I'm not ready for this.


  And to top it off, I'm fighting another bug. I need my coffee to give me strength through this, but I'm strictly on tea. Okay, that's a bit of a lie, because I had some coffee earlier. But now I've switched to tea, because the coffee made me feel worse. (Lesson learned.) And before my coffee-deprived, bug-infested brain takes this post rambling any farther away from crochet, I should get to the project that's getting me through my fear of the coming storm:


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  Progress! That's what we love to hear about, right? Forget all that whining. I finally sat down last week and cut up the next sheet that was needed for my fabric scrap rug. But progress was slower than I wanted, because I had a funny feeling that I didn't have as much material as I did when I cut up the first sheet. I was able to make twelve squares from the first fitted king-size sheet, with some scrap still left over.


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  The plan was to make more of the same squares with a second color, and alternate them when joining. I took some of the material from the second sheet and created mock squares to see how the design would go:


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  I didn't like the example as much as I had liked the idea in my head. If the colors were more contrasting, I think I would enjoy it. But this combination of off-white and beige squares just didn't appeal to me. Besides, with that feeling that I would be short on material, what would I do if I couldn't make enough squares?

  So, I decided that I would use the second color to add more rounds to the existing squares. Again I used the strips to mock what the design would look like, and I liked it so much better. It was a safe plan, too, in case I ran out of "yarn".


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  After adding one round to one square, I knew it would take about five strips of fabric to finish another round around each one. I sat down and joined the strips in little balls of five, and I became sure that I wouldn't have enough to do more. Still, I had planned on leaving each square unfinished, so I could go back and add on if my predictions were wrong. My coffee-deprived brain forgot that plan however, and I finished off one and wove in the ends.


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  I had a minor face-palm episode when I realized what I did, but it didn't really matter in the end. Remembering to leave the rest unfinished, I worked one round of the second color around each square. Some ended a few stitches short of finishing, so it's a good thing I have some scrap left over. After working all the squares, this is all I have left of my pile:


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  I didn't know exactly how many were left, but I knew it wasn't enough to continue. What about a round with a shorter stitch? One of my squares only used four of the strips I had joined, so I continued working a round of single crochet with it. I only got across one side of the square before it ran out:


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  Now that I knew it would take four or more strips for each square, I counted the rest. Twelve left. Nope, not enough! I'm perplexed as to how two sheets of the same size gave me two different amounts of material, when I know I cut the strips the same width. It took six to seven strips to create each of the original squares, and I was left with scraps. If I could have finished each square in only six strips, then maybe the second color could have worked out. But it would have left me with absolutely no margin for error.


crochet, fabric scrap, rug


  The next thing will be to cut up a dark blue sheet for joining these squares. I considered using the join-as-you-go method, but I think I'm going to stick with the one-seam join that I love. I'm a little disappointed that my rug will be smaller than I planned, but I don't have a choice. The only other scrap sheets I have are different kinds of fabric - Flannel and microfiber. The flannel is saved for another project and doesn't match this color scheme, anyways. And cutting up microfiber for fabric yarn is an adventure I've yet to tackle.


  I had a bunch of things planned for this week - Publishing the pattern for the Love Knot scarf I made, working on a tutorial, and putting the final touches on the pattern for that cowl that kinda got forgotten already... But honestly, this cold knocked all plans out of me. The most of what I'm doing is curling up under my fluffy blanket and crocheting when I'm not shivering.


  But I'm still keeping an eye on the skies and an ear tuned to the news, because reports of devastation are already coming through. There's no doubt that Hurricane Matthew will be bad... The uncertainty is where it will be the worst. They're forecasting up to 60 MPH winds in my area; worse on the coast and to the north. We already have six inches of water under our house, and we often lose electricity in high winds. You might not see me until next week!


https://weather.com/storms/hurricane-central/matthew-2016/AL142016


  So in just in case that happens, I'd like to say now that I'm thinking of those in the path of the storm, and others already affected by it. Please be safe. My anxieties and thoughts for you all will be poured into my stitches until the storm passes. When I really can't do much other than worry and wait for news, at least there's still that good old yarn-y comfort to turn to.


Happy Crocheting!


Update: I'm back! We went to stay with my dad for the night while the storm blew through, and most everything turned out fine for us. There's been a lot of cleanup going on around here (just yard debris) amid lots of mud. I'm mosquito-bitten and tired, so I probably won't get back to crochet or posting until the weekend is over. But thankfully that's all we have to worry about. We're still keeping those affected by (and still in the path of) the storm in our thoughts. And let's all hope it doesn't make that loop back to us.
  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Doily for a Coffee Maker

  September 29th is National Coffee Day in the United States and many other countries. And just two days from that, October 1st is officially International Coffee Day! Of course, I had to make an extra pot of coffee to celebrate this day. And when I did, I noticed a project that I neglected to share! So I dug through my files, found the pictures, and almost deleted them because they are horrible... It was another thunderstorm-y day, so please excuse the lighting.


  I don't think this piece is particularly pretty, and it looks quite weird by itself. But this doily has an important purpose! (I also neglected to write the post about my little "coffee station" over on the other blog, so I'll clue you in here.) One day during a thunderstorm, I sat staring at the bins of my yarn stash that I've shoved against a bad spot in the wall. That stack of mismatched bins... Well now, that didn't look much better! I've also wanted to get my coffee maker off my dinner table for awhile. Would it be possible to turn the stack of bins into a coffee station?

coffee, crochet, free pattern, jute, twine, doily

  It took some work, but... Yes! I was able to stabilize the bins enough to make them safe for the coffee maker. Hidden with a tablecloth held in place with some twine, it looks a little cheesy, but it's better than bins hiding a scratched-up wall. I worried about the heat of the maker on the plastic lid, so I tested it out.(Yay, more coffee!) It got a bit warm over two hours, but not hot. I decided that a heat-shielding doily that could provide some airflow would be good, just in case.

coffee, crochet, free pattern, jute, twine, doily



  I usually record all my patterns in typical form, but this one is more like a photo tutorial. There's no list of materials and I didn't record the gauge or actual size. I just grabbed my twine, a size J/10 - 6.00 MM hook, and a camera, created a rectangular doily that will fit under most 12-cup coffee makers. Although I'm doubtful of how many people will want to make this pattern, I do think the first few rounds of the doily would make some cute coasters. Maybe it will prove to be inspiration for a different project!

coffee, crochet, free pattern, jute, twine, doily

  I'm not sure how much material went into the doily, but I started with a 350-ft roll that was partially used, and still had over half of it left when done. A 100-foot (30 m) roll should be enough.

  Most of this pattern consists of single crochet and chain stitches. The half double crochet, double crochet, and triple crochet will also be required for joining. The last round is made of double crochet and chain stitches.

doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Begin by chaining 6 and joining into a ring with a slip stitch. Chain 1. Make 11 single crochet in the ring. Not counting the beginning chain-1 as a stitch, join to the first single crochet with a slip stitch.


doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 2: Chain 1, single crochet in the same space. (Chain 2, single crochet in the next stitch) around. Only chain 1 before the beginning single crochet, and join in that stitch with a single crochet.

For the next round, chain 1, and single crochet in the space made by the joining single crochet.

*Until the last round, each round will begin with (chain 1, single crochet in the joining space).
But the joining stitch will change at the end of the round, so pay attention!
From here until round 6, you will always have 11 chain spaces.

 

doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 3: (Chain 3, single crochet in the next chain-2 space) around. Chain 1 and join in the beginning chain space with a half-double crochet.

 Round 4: (Chain 4, single crochet in the next chain space) around. Chain 1 and join in the beginning chain space with a double crochet.

*This would be a good place to stop for a coaster, or maybe even the round before. The next round makes the piece into more of a trivet, fitting under my coffee pot.


doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 5: (Chain 5, single crochet in the next chain space) around. Chain 2 and join in the beginning chain space with a double crochet.

*The next round would not be a good place to end the pattern! This round gets a little messy-looking, setting up to turn the piece into a rectangle.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 6: Chain 3 after the beginning single crochet, single crochet in the same space. [(Single crochet, chain 3) twice, single crochet] in each chain space around. Single crochet once more in the same space as the beginning single crochet. Chain 1 and join with a half double crochet.

*Now you'll have 22 chain spaces.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 7: Chain 12, skip two chain-3 spaces, single crochet in the next. Chain 12, skip one chain space, single crochet in the next. This makes part of the first short side of the rectangle.


doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Continuing round 7: *(Chain 4, single crochet in the next chain-3 space) 4 times.* This makes the first long side of the rectangle.
(Chain 12, skip one chain-3 space, single crochet in the next. Chain 12, skip two chain-3 spaces, single crochet in the next. Chain 12, skip one chain space, single crochet in the next) to create the next short side.
Repeat from * to * for the final long side. Chain 6, skip the last chain-3 space. Join in the beginning chain space with a triple crochet.
I know that only equals 'chain 10' for the final space, but making an extra 2 chains caused too big a gap! I did hit a thin spot in my twine at that point, so go ahead and chain 8 before the join if yours is short.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 8: Chain 3, single crochet in the same space. (Chain 3, single crochet) 4 times in the next space.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Continuing round 8: *(Chain 3, single crochet) 5 times in the corner space.*
**(Chain 3, single crochet in the next space) 4 times.**
Work from * to * for next corner.
Work from ** to ** for next side.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Finishing round 8: (Chain 3, single crochet) 3 times in the same space as the beginning single crochet. Chain 1 and join to the beginning chain space with a half double crochet.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Round 9: Chain 2 to begin, make 2 double crochet in the space made by the half double crochet. (Chain 1, make 3 double crochet in the next space) across, until you reach the third chain-3 space of a corner.



doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
 Continuing round 9: Chain 3, make 3 double crochet in the third chain-3 space. Work (chain 1, double crochet 3 times in the next space) across for sides, and chain 3 before corners.
Make 1 double crochet in the same space as the beginning chain-2.


 
doily, twine, jute, crochet, free pattern
Skip the beginning chain-2, and join with a slip stitch in the first double crochet. Cut the twine and weave in the ends.
Because the thickness of twine can be inconsistent, some damp blocking may be required to straighten out the edges. But please, don't soak it! It took three days for me to dry a coaster made of this stuff when I soaked it in the sink.


coffee, crochet, free pattern, jute, twine, doily


  And by the way, I did make a point to put the coffee maker on the two bins I go into the least... One is actually my hardly-used sewing bin. I don't want to have to move the coffee pot each time I need a skein of yarn! The bins I work from often are only covered by a few candles that I don't burn on top of plastic.


coffee, crochet, free pattern, jute, twine, doily

   The whole setup isn't so "girly" that Rip van Winkle will complain, and I think it serves its purpose. The edges show just enough from under the coffee maker, and those big gaps provide plenty of airflow underneath. After another two hours of another pot of coffee heating, the plastic lid underneath no longer feels warm at all. Now, if only I could get Rip to wake up from that nap at the table, so I don't drink the rest of another pot all by myself...


Happy Crocheting! 
 And Happy Coffee Days!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stay Out of My Stash

  A few posts ago, I told you I would be doing some research on one of my new yarns. My research is done, and I found... Almost nothing that I didn't already know. Well, when you can't gain knowledge through investigation, it's time to turn to experimentation!


  The post I mentioned was the one where I was fed up with all the knots I've been finding, and the yarn I was supposed to research is Facets by Loops & Threads. From the label, I know it's 100% acrylic, bulky weight (5), 120 yds / 3.5 oz (110 m / 100 g). I was hoping to find information about how it was spun, but all I could find was a bland and somewhat redundant description about the projects you can make with all the colors of this yarn. So, let's pick up with that knot I was avoiding, and go find out about it for ourselves...


Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  Is it plied? Is it a loosely spun single? Is the wrap and weight supposed to vary, or did I get a defective ball of yarn? Although I couldn't find the answers to those questions from the company's description, I found some clues in the customer review section. Some are more than happy with their purchases, but one mentioned having the same problem as me, and even worse.


  I considered contacting the company, but I'll explain more about that later... For now, I just want to finish my project! So, I'm going to attempt to cut and repair my "mystery" yarn, and just hope that it will work. I know, I know... Nobody wants to see me do another Russian Join, right? But I'm grabbing the camera anyways, because I have hopes that maybe some yarn junkies or spinners out there can help me affirm my guesses.
 
Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  I'm pretty positive that I have it right about it being a loosely-spun single. When you hit one of the two-color sections of the yarn, it really looks plied at first. But once you reach a single-colored, extra-loosely-spun part, it seems to obviously be a single. And I've never done a Russian Join on a single, so I'm both excited and scared to move on...

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  It's a single ply, right? The very loose parts will pull apart with the slightest tension, so there's no way this could be plied. Anyways, once you cut it, it very clearly looks like a single. I procrastinated a bit by searching "Russian Join on single ply", but I came up with nothing. Well, there isn't much left to do other than get the needle and try!

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  Yuck. That is one of the worst Russian Joins I've ever made. So, this is where that little trick I taught you comes into play! Twist, untwist, twist... Untwist, twist some more... Huh. I think it might have looked better before I did that.

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  But... The Russian Join worked! (Sure looks horrible, but it worked!) I grabbed the hook and got back to my project. Although that join looks terrible by itself, I thought it looked pretty normal once I worked it up:

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  The spot I repaired shows more than the typical Russian Join, but the thickness of this yarn alternates anyways. If you have worked with Facets already, I would love to hear if you had the same experience with yours. Although it adds character to the yarn, I'm not sure if I like this effect making the edges of my squares all wobbly.


  I needed to stretch this yarn as far as possible to complete my project. Plus, I'm making squares (duh)! Do you think I want one more end to weave in? I'm glad the Russian Join worked, pretty or not. After repairing the knot and finishing that square, I had less than half a ball left.

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  I was able to finish off the rest of that skein without another knot. Yay! I really do love watching the colors as they run out of the ball, because this is one of those yarns that will surprise you. (Which can be not-good if you have a plan!) But I was a little disappointed when my project was finished without working much of the lighter part of the yarn in:

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  I really like that part of it, and I wish I had worked squares from both ends of the ball to incorporate it. I made a mistake on that last square, too, so more could have been in it - I skipped a stitch in the corner, and I didn't find it until after I cut the yarn. It's something I can easily fudge in the joining process, so I'm not going back to fix it.


  Ah, joining! That thing that means your project will soon be done... That moment your pieces begin to become part of a whole... Some crocheters love it, some hate it, and some are just indifferent - It's just part of the project. after all. As long as I can use the one-seam method, I don't mind it. And I was once again enjoying the color play of my yarn while I began joining my squares, then...

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  Oh, come on, you have got to be kidding me! I'll admit that the hook isn't in my project because I hurled it all down when I found another knot. It's also a good thing that cats don't understand English (do they?) and nobody else was here to be offended by what was coming out of my mouth. I threw a bit of a temper tantrum and cussed up a storm while I snapped a quick photo for more proof of this craziness. But in the end, I calmed down, grabbed a needle, and made another Russian Join in another ball of yarn.

Loops & Threads Facets, knots, Russian Join, crochet

  From farther away, you really can't tell a difference. The varying thickness of this yarn does hide its own imperfections and my mistakes. But up close, I think it looks horrible. I can see where the yarn was woven together, and the seam puckers up a tiny bit in that spot. Since I'm confident that it blends in when the project is worn, I'm leaving it. I'll still always know right where that repair is, though. Can you spot it?


  Now, about contacting the company: I decided not to, but I will leave a customer review on their site. Although I wanted more information about this yarn at first, I'm no longer interested and that would be a waste of both my time and theirs. Why? Because they know their yarn is like this. Somebody had to tie those knots in there. This isn't a case where the yarn ran out while winding a ball; it's just yarn that's delicately spun and likes to come apart.


  Facets yarn is available in a range of beautiful colors that will catch your eye, and it's one of the softest acrylics I've ever felt. Those are the two reasons I purchased it on an impulse, and those are the two main things you'll read about in most of the positive reviews. It has potential to create amazing projects, but it's not for me. If the manufacturer ever puts a little extra twist into this yarn to stop the breakage, I would love to work with it again. Until then, this yarn can stay out of my stash. If I find one more ball with a knot tied in it, you might find me tied up in a straight jacket.


Happy Crocheting!

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