Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Little Things

  For all the stress I've been through lately, it's about time I found something that really, truly made me happy. Well, I found two of them! And then there's this other little thing that just helps make me happier... In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for the things that helped to brighten my mood.

  Let's start with that one little thing: I finished that giant plarn granny bag that I was working on. There's usually a big "yay" for finished projects, but this one only gets a *sigh*. It's done. And it's ugly as can be. But it's finished and usable, so it still creates a feeling of accomplishment.

plarn, crochet, bag, granny square

  'Nuff said about that ugly thing for now. Moving on to thing thing number one (that actually makes me happy): The HDML 1321 is Out of Jeopardy! Since taking interest in the salvage of the historic ship, I've been waiting for this great news. My friend Stella over at Purfylle has created an entire website where you can follow the dramatic rescue of the ship. Trust me: If you're in to action-drama stories, there's no need to purchase the next fiction! Just follow the true story of this ship, and you'll get a little history lesson while you're at it.

  And now: Drum roll please... It's that one thing that made me so happy that I jumped up and down while clapping my hands in excitement... It caused such a reaction from me that Rip van Winkle thought I'd lost my mind (of course, that's because he's clueless as to why this is so awesome)... It's possibly the best way to store your electrical extension cords! *Screech* WHAT? Just check this out and tell me if you can pick up on what this guy is doing:

  This video happened to roll across my tablet when I had let YouTube auto-play for a little too long. (You know that place, where you stop and wonder how you got there?) When I began jumping, clapping, and yes, even giggling, Rip asked me if I was okay. I pointed to the video. "Look! Look what he's doing!"

Of course, Rip responded with "rolling up an extension cord".

Me: No. No, no, no, he's not rolling it!

Him: "Okay...?" (And looking like he's trying to remember the number for 911 in case he needs it.)

Me: OMG, he's totally crocheting! He's crocheting a freaking extension cord to keep it from getting tangled! Do you think he knows that he's crocheting? Do you think other people know he's crocheting? Hold on, let me check the comments...


OMG somebody else totally knows that he's crocheting! Wait, he just used the term "chain". He totally knows he's crocheting!

Rip's response: "Okay, well, I'm gonna go to bed."

  As usual, it makes me happy and that's all that matters, right? DirtFarmerJay made my day with that video! I'm thankful for the smile, and I can't wait to see if I can crochet that mess of a 100-ft cord that Rip has tangled in a toolbox.

  Now... You didn't think I could go through a post about being thankful without hearing a big thank-you for yourself, did you? Of course, I'm always thankful for my readers! For those celebrating the holiday, I hope you have a happy, wonderful, safe Thanksgiving. I'd stick with the whole "don't eat too much turkey" theme, but we all know that's a lie. Everybody saves room for pie! 😋

  To all my readers: Thank you for coming back for more of my rambling about crochet and non-crochet related subjects. You're all awesome!

  One last thing I'm thankful for... Yams! That yummy, gooey, syrupy concoction that isn't really yams, but actually sweet potatoes. I hated them so much when I was a kid. Somewhere along the line, I learned to like more than just the sticky marshmallow that topped the dish. I discovered that they're pretty good with half the sugar the recipe calls for... That's great, considering there's a whole bag of marshmallows on top.

yams, candied yams, Thanksgiving

What? Just because I learned to like the sweet potato doesn't mean I'm going without my marshmallows. Mom always said "if you have to ask how many calories are in a serving, don't eat them."

Happy Crocheting!
And Happy Thanksgiving!
PS- Okay, I can't lie to you. There isn't really a whole bag of marshmallows on top. Some of them mysteriously got left out... Possibly stolen? Maybe borrowed... Okay, fine. The marshmallows insisted that I eat them. It was all their fault. But the entire bag isn't on top of the yams. Does that make this the low-calorie version?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Have Anxiety, Must Crochet

  That's it! Call the Funny Farm, I'm ready for them to come get me. (I'm only being sarcastic, please don't call them again.😉) There has been two separate events over the past two weeks that have left me paralyzed with anxiety and unable to sleep more than ever. I am so very thankful that in times like these, I have the gift of crochet to keep me from completely losing my mind.

  When I found myself so shaken that I couldn't hold a hook in my hand, I turned to my plarn granny squares using finger crochet. It's a big, chunky project that's easy to hang on to with trembling fingers. When I realized that I would never get anything done if I kept popping up from the table with every noise, I forced myself into my recliner - Not to relax, but so I could see out the window while I worked.

crochet, plarn, granny square, finger crochet, anxiety

  It took over an hour for my hands to find their strength again. In my nervous state, I kept making silly mistakes that set me back again and again. But ripping and stitching made me focus on something other than my fear, and I finally made some progress in the last square needed to create the bag I have planned.

crochet, plarn, granny square, finger crochet, anxiety

  You might think I'm overreacting, but I'm not kidding when I say I'm glad to have my scissors at hand to make more material. No chop or rotary cutter today - Just a good old-fashioned craft tool that doubles as a weapon. (Kinda makes me want to go back to practicing my knitting so I can have a couple of pointy sticks, too...) Both situations left me genuinely in fear for my life, and I don't think you can blame me for wanting to arm myself.

crochet, plarn, granny square, finger crochet, anxiety

  If you're asking "what's going on?", then you're thankfully not one of the people that have been sending me threats. After showing some military support for Veterans and Remembrance Day, my social media accounts started blowing up with personal messages from unknown profiles - Ones that were conveniently deleted shortly after. Some were religious rants, others called me American scum, but more than one was threatening my life. It was only empty (?) threats made in virtual reality, so again, you might think I'm overreacting... But please excuse me while this gets a bit graphic: I had a man tell me he was going to stab me in the vagina so I could be raped and gutted at the same time.

  How did crocheting get me here? Are they serious that I deserve that for making some flowers and a dagger? The craziness, the cruelty, the senselessness of hearing these things over a crochet project... It has made me lose nearly all my faith in humanity. And it also did exactly what I think they were hoping for - It made me fearful. They might have scared me good for a short time, but I don't and won't back down. When you make me fearful, I'll just grab my crochet to still my shaking hands. So you see, there's a ray of sunshine in this whole cloud of darkness:
crochet, plarn, granny square, finger crochet, anxiety

  And just beyond that ray of sunshine is a loaded rifle, because that makes me feel even better. So just in case they're not kidding, I'm not either. The crochet is just to still my fingers so they're steady on a trigger. After the threats in virtual reality, I faced an even scarier situation... Long story short, Rip van Winkle sold his truck - From our house, because since he works with the buyer, he trusted the guy. A week later, the guy says he wants his money back, "or else". Knowing Rip was still at work, the guy left and showed up here to harass me and wouldn't leave, even after I called the police.

  When a man waits for a woman half his size to get far away from the house before confronting her (knowing she's alone), and refuses to leave the property even while she's on the phone with the cops, you know you're not dealing with a stable person... Right? So this is a buyer- and seller-beware situation: Don't buy a truck for $800 thinking it won't need some work (especially after you're told that it needs work), and don't sell things from your house, even if you think you know the person. People. Are. Crazy.

crochet, plarn, granny square, finger crochet, anxiety

  Through all the stress, I managed to put that bag together. I added some of squares backwards and had to rip back a few times. In the end, I made one of my seams in the wrong direction so the bag twists a bit. Since it's just an experimental pattern, I'm not worried about fixing it. The point wasn't to make a perfect project; the point was to occupy myself with something so I could focus through fear. I still have to make handles for it, but I ran out of material. Darn, I guess I'll have to keep those scissors close by for a little longer...

  But I'm still not kidding. The crazy truck buyer - I now have a trespass warrant against him, and he won't be back if he's smart... If. However, he proved to me how insane people can get over something they believe is right. Although they're most likely hollow attempts to scare me out of amusement, I'm not taking those social media messages lightly. I'll be taking up my hook (or finger) to crochet away my anxiety, and spending some time making my property a little more secure.

Happy Crocheting! 
PS - To my friends who may be missing me on social media, you can guess that this is why. I'll only be sharing my posts from in-browser so I don't have to fully log in, which leaves me missing everything shared by others. I'm not gone from it forever - I just can't take any more threats right now.

Monday, November 14, 2016

For Knitting Only?

  There are some keywords that really matter when you're picking a yarn... If it is listed as a craft yarn, you probably don't want to make a garment with it. If it is called a novelty yarn, it will most likely be something with crazy texture that can be hard to work with. Natural and animal fibers can make beautiful garments, but some can be scratchy, and they usually require special care.

  These are all things that can make an online purchase a scary situation! Not being able to feel a yarn before I buy it often leads me to make the "safe" choice of picking a synthetic, inexpensive acrylic. If it ends up being the scratchiest yarn in the world, then you can always make a bag or some doilies with it, right? I have something that's been sitting in my stash for about a year now, being saved for a special project because it turned out to be a really nice yarn. I finally made a decision to use it, and dug it out to get started. That was when I ran into a slight problem... There's no recommended hook size on the label!

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  Although there are yarns that are labeled as knitting yarn, it doesn't stop you from crocheting with them. Even though this Plymouth Dreambaby 4-Ply wasn't listed as a knitting yarn, it doesn't include crochet gauge on the label. Yup, sometimes they do that to us. So, what do I do?

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  There are two simple options. One: Search online! I usually go right to the manufacturer's website to find yarn information. However, it didn't help me this time - There's no crochet gauge listed on their site, either! My second thought was to search for patterns using this yarn and check the gauge for them, but that only led me to a distraction. Searching "Dreambaby 4-Ply" gave me tons of results for "Dreambaby DK", which made me go do a side-check to see if this yarn was discontinued. The answer seems to be "no", although the colors available are very limited. And now I was lost looking at the pretty colors available in the other yarn.

  I get easily distracted that way, and the best thing for me to do is walk away from glowing rectangles. I went back to my yarn, which provided option two: Figure it out by the knitting gauge provided! The label tells me that the recommended needles would be a size 3.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  All I have to do is use this chart from the Craft Yarn Council to find the corresponding size hook. Size 3 knitting needles are 3.25 MM, which would be a size D-3 crochet hook. See how complicated these American sizes can be? I think it would be easier for hooks and needles to just be labeled by their measurements.

  However, that's a debate for another time. It was easy to find the corresponding hook size, but I had to do a little extra guesswork before I started my project. This yarn is a nylon blend, nice and soft with a good bit of stretch. Because my tension is always a little too tight, I know my work will pucker if I use the recommended hook (or needle) size. Working with a stretchy yarn makes this problem even worse. Since I want a nice lacy fabric that will get the most out of my yarn, I automatically went up two hook sizes before I began.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  And of course, I'm still obsessed with making everything in the Love Knot stitch at the moment, so there's the additional problem of trying to find the perfect length for the loops. I'm glad I went up with the hook size, because the closing single crochet stitches of the Love Knots are pretty tight as-is.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  I still don't know what the deal is with yarns that claim to be "for knitting", or why some don't have a crochet gauge available. But I do know that with a little research, it doesn't stop you from using them for crochet. It only took me a few minutes to convert that needle size so I could get to work on my next project. A quick search and the forethought to increase the size for my tension saved me from ripping out a lot of guesswork.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply

  The Craft Yarn Council also has this chart which can tell you the recommended hook size based on your yarn weight. That's great, but none of it will stop me from the perpetual problem of starting more projects! The hard part of beginning the pattern is done and over with, so this one is getting put aside as a "weekend" WIP. Like I really need another one.

Happy Crocheting! 

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