Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Wall Hanging

  By now, most of you know I don't celebrate Christmas... But that doesn't mean I can't add a little "winter" decor to my house! It gets kinda boring here in Florida, with no change in scenery except for the increased traffic in town and long lines in the supermarket. Oh, and possums. This time of year, I regularly have to kick a possum off my porch at night.


  Anyways, I wanted to do something to make it feel like winter other than run the air conditioning more. Originally, I made my snowflake set to be used as a coaster and doily set for the table. Err... Maybe I should have remembered that Rip van Winkle works with concrete before I made nice white pretty things. They lasted one day on the table before I had to wash them! Instead of letting my snowflakes get ruined, I've decided to re-purpose them into a wall hanging.


snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  I started out with some jump rings and eye pins. My plan was to use the eye pins to separate the pieces, so they would hang far apart without drooping. It seemed like a good plan to me... However, there was a point during the creation process where the title of this post was going to be "sometimes I feel like an idiot".

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter

  Add some pretty beads to those pins, and I'll have a beautiful, sparkling snowflake decoration in no time. Right? Yeah, right.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  I almost chucked this whole project out the door. Between the frustration I went through putting it together and the problems my camera was giving me, I was about to give up. But I took a deep breath and tried again (and again, and again), and I finally made it right. I even dug some lights out of the closet I've been cleaning, and decided to add them to the wall instead of throwing them out like I planned. For some reason they're joined in a loop, so I was trying to spread them out across the whole wall. In the rest of the pictures, I had looped them multiple times around the decoration, and I think it looks better than this:

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  Now, do you care to go on a little adventure with me? I could have avoided the problems I faced had I used starch or glue to stiffen the pieces, but I wanted to leave them the way they are... Just in case I can use them on the table sometime in the future. Here's how I put it all together, including all the mistakes I made.


Mistake 1:
I placed some beads on the eye pin, alternating the teardrop-shaped and small glass beads. I put four big teardrop beads and nine small beads on the first pin, planning to use that as a "spacer" between the small snowflakes. I had an extremely difficult time closing the pin because I didn't leave much room to work with. It took ten minutes to close the pin, and it was a major time-waster. I should have taken some beads off, but I had bent the pin so I couldn't remove them anymore. Figuring the beads are too pretty to waste, I fought with it until I made it work.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


Mistake 2:
I thought adding the jump rings to the back loop of a chain space would give them a nice pointy shape. This later proved to be unstable, and only pulled a giant loop out of the stitch.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


It doesn't look so bad sitting on a table, does it? Once I hung the "finished" piece up, it turned into a disaster.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


Mistake 3:
Genius that I am, I decided to put less beads on the next pins. (At least that was a good idea!) Finding them easier to close, I made more to use as spacers between the large snowflake and the small ones. However, I only used one jump ring on each side to attach them, and it pulled the pins too close to the pieces.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


Adding another jump ring to each pin was all had to do to fix mistake #3. It provided a little space between the pieces and allowed the pin to rotate a bit.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


Back to more mistakes (please let's stop counting them all)...
Somewhere along the line, I changed my mind and thought the piece looked better upside-down. Well, at this stage, I can make it hang whatever way I want, right?

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


Not a mistake, just in the wrong place:
Along with my jewelry-making supplies, I had a short piece of chain. I thought it would look fancier than stringing the hanging up with some yarn. I like it! But, let's get back to that way I thought it would look better...

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  Wait, wait... First, remember the display photos of how the project turned out? Let me remind you before I show you the disaster this thing almost was:


  Okay, I feel better now. So, you're probably thinking I'm overreacting. It's not so bad, right? Maybe it could use a few more sparkles or some color, but it's not a failure... Oh, but that final result is only after THIS:

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter

  Ha ha ha! All I could do was laugh when I hung it up. My idea that was so great on the table was a total failure on the wall! What happened to my "spacer" pin? And why does the big snowflake hang straight from one point, but curls under its weight from two? Such a catastrophe! How can I call myself a crafter?


  I spent twenty minutes vaping and deciding I hate winter. I don't need to decorate. Snowflakes are stupid, anyways. Then I calmed down and set my mind to making it right. The first thing to do was flip it all over:

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  That was better, but that spacer pin still wasn't acting like a spacer. It was acting more like a pain in my... Fingers, because that's what I'm using to open and close all these jump rings.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter

  Another genius idea: I thought if the "spacer" wouldn't push the pieces apart, then I'd hang it at the bottom where it can dangle and be pretty. I moved it down to the lower points of the small snowflakes. I don't know why I figured that would be a better place, since those spaces are even farther apart than the points in the middle.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  Ah ha! So I turned the small snowflakes so their tallest points are in line with the spaces of the big snowflake. Success! The whole jumble hung a lot less like a mess, and more like something made by someone older than ten.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  But that spacer pin... Ugh, it was still looking out-of-place to me. After this latest trial, I noticed that the big snowflake still wanted to flop inwards a bit. I decided to use the pin to add a little sparkle, and hopefully some space the hanging chain.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  Even more success! Now the two small snowflakes could hang freely. Satisfied but still wanting to dress it up more, I tried adding some teardrop beads to a few jump rings, and I was going to hang them from the lower points of all the snowflakes. I succeed in shattering my beads when I closed the rings. 😞

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  While hanging my lights, I noticed another spot that could be improved: By moving the hanging chain over to the smaller chain spaces farther from the point, I eliminated the small amount of drooping that was still a problem on the big snowflake.

snowflake, wall hanging, crochet, winter


  Adding glitter glue was a thought, but I hate working with glitter as much as I hate winter. Somehow I always end up cleaning up more glitter than goes on a project. Maybe I'll figure out a way to add those dangling beads to the bottom points... Maybe not. Either way, I'm satisfied enough with it. I heard the temperature was supposed to hit a low of 60° tonight. Perhaps I should open the windows and sip some hot cocoa while staring at my winter wall. It's as close to seeing snow as I ever want to get.


Happy Crocheting!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Weird Woolly Facts

  Although not all of these circumstances can be limited to wool itself, they all revolve around it in some way. From cloth dyeing to yarn-y laws, and right down to the sheep themselves... Here are some things you just might find interesting.


sheep, wool, yarn




Export = execution:
Ah, Merino... One of the finest wool-producing sheep. So nice, in fact, that the export of Merinos was an offense punishable by death until the 18th century in Spain.

That must be some killer wool.

pixabay.com, sheep, wool




You're grounded!
On October 26th, 2015, Singapore Airlines flight SQ-7108 was travelling from Adelaide, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The flight had to be diverted to Indonesia when an extreme amount of methane gases from 2,000 sheep triggered the plane's fire alarms.

And you thought your last flight was crappy...

pixabay.com, sheep, wool




Taking the piss:
In medieval times, there were laws governing how people dressed according to social or financial class (known as "Sumptuary Laws"). They all basically meant "you're not important enough to wear that". One of those laws forbade anyone but royalty from wearing the color purple. Yup, King Edward III wanted to make sure his noble family would stand out in a crowd.

Now, that might seem like a selfish or stuck up law, and not weird... Until you learn about the dyeing process of the times. In old Ed's time, purple fiber was probably still being dyed with snail snot. A few hundred years later, people got tired of milking snails and discovered a plant-based alternative. Woad produced a nice, bright, bluish-purple hue... Especially when stale urine was added as a mordant. (source: Dyed in the Wool; A.J.R. Pomeroy)

pixabay.com, Queen Elizabeth I

Although urine had been used for centuries when fulling cloth, fuller's earth had thankfully been discovered by Queen Lizzy's time. The countryside might have smelled a bit better as a result, but the nobles's purple threads were still providing the piss-poor with a pot to piss in.

Royalty was getting mor-dant they bargained for!




Sheep aren't turtles:
It is a common belief that if a sheep gets stuck on its back, it will quickly die. Although this may have happened to some unlucky sheep, it is not true that all sheep will die when overturned. The bulky fleece of a sheep can make it difficult for the animal to right itself, but sheep do not simply die from being upside-down.

And others in the herd will push them back up when they fall over! Sheep are awesome.




For women only?
In the state of New Jersey, it is against the law for men to knit during fishing season.

YEAH! That's right, dudes! Don't even think about stealing our crafts! You know... As long as it's fishing season. It's okay the rest of the time. 

pixabay.com, knitting, wool, yarn




This sheep is really... Never mind.
The Jacob sheep can grow up to six horns! This is a rare breed that's prized for its wool and meat, plus the horns are sought after for crafting. Both males and females of the breed will grow horns. There are other breeds of sheep that will grow more than two horns, too!

Not even going there. We all get the joke.




Actually allergic, or slightly scratchy?
Many people, including myself, think they have a wool allergy. I've since learned that true wool allergies are rare, but many people with sensitive skin can get itchy from prickly fibers. True allergic reactions to wool are caused by lanolin, a natural oil in the fiber. Lanolin is found in many cleansing and beauty products, so chances are you've come into contact with it.

For me, I found that working with a blend with low wool content caused little to no reaction. But if I try to wear a garment that's more than 50% wool, I feel like taking a bath in calamine lotion afterwards. Know the difference - If it's a true wool allergy, stay away from it! But if you're just too sensitive, then a small amount of exposure might toughen you up.

Some of that fiber can be as abrasive as a Walmart cashier's attitude!

pixabay.com, yarn, wool




  Sheep have been an important part of our fiber art history for centuries. Sure, there are plenty of other fibers to work with today - From synthetic fibers to recycled plastic - But I'm willing to bet that for most, the word "knitting" brings to mind a warm, woolly sweater. Although these weird facts probably won't help you build your skills, I hope you had a little fun learning them. Sheep definitely deserve our respect as the Mighty Wool Makers, but it's still amusing to laugh at sheep farts interrupting a flight.

pixabay.com, sheep, wool


Happy Crocheting!

A big thanks goes to pixabay.com for helping make today's post more interesting! Since my camera is still on the outs, I went searching for a website that offers stock photos - And I found that pixabay actually has FREE photos that you can download, royalty-free, attribution-free, and just downright FREE! Although it's not a requirement, you can donate to the contributors of the site. And I think that's AWESOME! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Focus

*Beats head against the wall*
  I ran into a big problem today, but don't worry... I'm not going to sit here and complain about it. My camera stopped focusing correctly. I'm trying to work the issue out by playing with settings, but I'm afraid it's a bigger problem than I can fix.


  The trouble started when I was taking photos of a different project than the one here, and I thought maybe it had something to do with the color or lighting. So, I grabbed another WIP to test it out. Although I wasn't able to solve the problem, I scored a few that weren't too bad. Now I have some crochet eye candy to share with you. Hope you enjoy!


crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable



crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable



crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable



crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable



crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable


  Those are the best of the bunch. I took all the above photos in the same lighting while playing with various functions. Nothing seems to change. I searched through help forums and ran across many suggestions that it could have something to do with the IS setting. Switching that didn't help, either. Nine times out of ten, it just won't focus at all.


  As a last resort, I even tried the auto-function. In the following pictures, I moved the table over to increase the amount of sunlight falling on the project. At least I can say it seems to have changed itself... But I don't think it did a very good job at it!

crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable


crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable


crochet, circle vest, Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable


  Well, I'm perplexed. Auto-function might be kicking in to do something, but none of my manual settings are changing at all. And can we agree that auto-function sucks?


  I think I've beat my head against the wall over this long enough, and there's not much use in trying to troubleshoot any further. I've been taking about 100 pictures a day with a $100 re-manufactured camera for almost two years! The poor thing has probably had enough. Ain't that just my luck... I just replaced the battery and memory card a few months ago! *Sigh* I'm going back to my yarn now, because that makes me feel better. There's always a camera on my phone, after all...


Happy Crocheting!


  *Update* The purpose of this post was only to share the pretty pictures I got out of that whole mess... But since I'm getting comments and messages from people that want to help with my camera issue, I'm adding some examples of the bad ones.






  The camera is a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS. It's just a compact digital that doesn't have many settings to adjust. There's macro and infinity for focus, brightness adjustment, a few filters, and color enhancements. Each of the previous photos were taken using various combinations of those settings, minus the filters. I've had this issue before after using the zoom function, but it has always corrected itself after powering down. This time, it isn't correcting itself. Because I'm adjusting so many functions and still getting similar-looking photos, I suspect that I'm hitting buttons but the camera isn't actually changing anything at all.

  So, if you're a camera pro and you happen to know how I could fix it, then I'd love your help. But please, don't go out of your way to help me solve this problem. I've already been looking into a new/used/refurbished camera. I found a Rebel T5 on a discount that's almost within my budget... But wait, now I'm on eBay looking at all kinds of DSLR's that come with tripods, lens kits, and random other things I probably don't need. Maybe some time spent without a camera will finally make me get on Ravelry and finish adding those patterns I'm supposed to be selling... Maybe then I could afford the camera I want. Ooo, look! I found yarn on eBay! Aw, darn... Maybe that's why I never get anything done.

 

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