Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Work on Hold in Irma's Path

  To my friends, fellow crochet lovers, and yarn hoarders: There will be no crochet from me until sometime after this week. Hurricane Irma is barreling through the Caribbean and - from what has been forecast - is headed straight this way. Living in the center of the state, we might be a bit safer than those on the coast. But how safe are you from a hurricane when you live in a mobile home? You're not. So I'm putting the yarn away with hopes that it will still be here when I come back.

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  An emergency can make you gauge how important things are in your life. Just a few days ago I was trying to sort out which of my patterns or tutorials to share next. Now we're just wondering when the local hardware stores will share another supply of plywood. No bread, no water, and no gas everywhere you go... It's like the apocalypse has happened and the storm isn't even here yet.

  I am nervous and worrying myself sick. If this category 5 storm goes up the middle of the state like they say it could, we'll be right in its path. As for my mobile home with the roof that already started leaking from the constant rains we've had: It will be gone. There's no way it will make it through such catastrophic winds. The only thing we can do is decide what we can take, evacuate, and hope there's more than just five acres of mud and debris left to come back to.  

  Unfortunately, what won't be making the trip is six bins full of yarn and a pile of notebooks containing my patterns. Valuables, important documents, and the cat will be loaded up. Everything else stays. So in the event that my work isn't here when I return, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share some pictures of what's being left behind...

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cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

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cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

cardigan, crochet, Granny Squares, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, Scarf, tutorial, washcloth, WIP, work in progress

  This is the moment of uncertainty when all we can do is prepare. Some laugh it off and stock up on more beer instead of necessities... I wish they could have lived my life so they'd understand why I'm stressed and getting ready. We rode out hurricane Andrew in Broward county when I was eight years old. I'll never forget huddling in the dark hallway of the house as the wind screamed overhead; the sound of the shingles being ripped off the roof one by one; the aftermath of a world completely changed forever.

  It wasn't something I wanted to do again. Nonetheless, I had just moved to this area as newly separated 20-year-old while in the second term of carrying my son. In roared hurricane Charley and he proceeded to obliterate the town. Francis soon followed, then Ivan, and Jeanne, all doing more damage and flooding before cleanup was finished from the last. Spending weeks without electricity isn't fun. It's worse when you're pregnant during the middle of summer in Florida. But the reason we're able to say "we made it through" is because we prepared. Andrew and Charley were both storms that took last-minute turns and caught us all off guard. I'd much rather be prepared for nothing than lose everything.
 
  I have a sense of impending doom that I just can't shake. Usually I would pick up a hook and yarn to fight my fears. Instead, I'm doing laundry, packing bags, and making lists of supplies. I'm preparing. While I know this is the time to be level-headed and only take the few things we have that looters might actually want, I'm still trying to figure out how much yarn I can stuff in a bag and what to make during the storm... And that is surely the sign of a true yarn addict.

Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Homespun Pillow

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  Crocheted pillows are often so colorful and textured with different stitch designs. Not this one! What we have here is a plain and practical pillow for my truck-driving husband. It's a simple pattern, quick to make, and it could be a colorful stash-buster if you want it to be... Because he wanted it his way, I'm bringing you a drab grey square fit for a man:

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  So while Rip van Winkle complained about how uncomfortable it is to sleep in a truck, I questioned the ethics of napping while getting paid. I'm kidding. ðŸ˜‰ If they get called in early and the job gets cancelled, the guys clock out. But they don't drive home. They sprawl out on tables, perch in chairs, or curl up in trucks as they wait for the next job to start, and sometimes take pictures of each other snoring to post on Facebook... Driving a truck (or sleeping in one) can be a real pain in the neck, so I searched the stash for a soft yarn to make a manly pillow for him.

  This pattern could be made with any yarn or hook size. The squares are easy to continue if your gauge is tighter and you need to work more rounds. The beginning starts with a circle, so changing colors each round would really make the design pop... Or, it can make just a subtle bit of texture in one shade for a simple project that will use up a skein of yarn.

Skill level:
Easy

Materials:
Bulky weight (5) 100% acrylic yarn
I'm using Homespun from Lion Brand in the color Edwardian
Crochet hook size L-11 / 8 mm
Stitch markers (optional)
Yarn needle
16" x 16" (40.5 cm x 40.5 cm) pillow form

  *Although one color, this project did make room in my stash. The squares were made from the Homespun yarn I had bought many years ago as a beginner, planning to knit a blanket. When I learned to crochet I recycled it for (what would have been) an afghan along with the Country Loom from my recent review. The pillow form was stuffed in the stash, too, so I really made some space for more yarn!

Gauge:
Not important... Square size is easy to adjust.

Notes:
Chain-1 at beginning of rounds does not count as a stitch.

The single crochet stitch is used to join rounds after round 3. This the takes place of a chain-1 corner space.

Stitch markers can be very helpful to use while working round 3. Marking your stitches while making this round will help you avoid recounting in the next.

Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Slip Stitch
Single crochet
Single crochet 2 together (sc2tog)
Double crochet


Instructions for squares:
*Find example photos after pattern*

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(Make 2)

Round 1:
Begin with a magic circle. Chain 1, make 12 double crochet in the ring.
Tighten ring and join with a slip stitch in the first double crochet made.
(12 double crochet)

Round 2:
Chain 1, double crochet in the first stitch available. 2 double crochet in each of the 11 stitches remaining.
Double crochet once more in the beginning space; join with a slip stitch to beginning double crochet.
(24 double crochet)

Round 3:
Chain 1, double crochet in the first stitch available. 2 double crochet in each of the 23 stitches remaining.
Double crochet once more in the beginning space; join with a slip stitch to beginning double crochet. *Optional... Count and mark every 12 stitches (4 markers; 1 for each corner space).
(48 double crochet)

Round 4:
Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the first stitch available.
*1 double crochet in each of the next 11 stitches. (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the next.*
Repeat from * to * 2 more times.
Work 1 double crochet in each of the 11 remaining stitches; 2 double crochet in the beginning space. Join with a single crochet in the first double crochet made.

Round 5:
Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
*1 double crochet in each stitch up to corner space. In corner, work (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet).*
Repeat * to * 2 more times.
Work 1 double crochet in each remaining stitch up to beginning space. Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space; join with a single crochet in the first double crochet made.

All following rounds:
Repeat Round 5 for each additional round. I worked 8 rounds to fit a 16" (40.5 cm) pillow form. The squares barely stretched over the sides of the pillow at this point, but the joining seam will make extra space. Bind off and weave in ends of first square. I chose to start joining without cutting the yarn from the second square.

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 Round 1: Make 12 double crochet.

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 Round 2: Make 2 double crochet in each stitch (24 double crochet).

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 Round 3: Make 2 double crochet in each stitch (48 double crochet).

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 Doubling up again in round 3 makes extra stitches that cause the pattern to ruffle. Don't worry, it will flatten out as you work the next round.

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 Work 1 double crochet in next 11 stitches for side; (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) for corners.

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Repeat for all following rounds. Pattern should remain flat from here on.

Joining:
I hate having to sew anything I can crochet instead. You can sew your squares together if you prefer a smooth seam, but I like the textured seam around the edge.

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You can begin joining the squares on the first three sides without inserting the pillow.

Chain 1. Insert hook in the single crochet joining space of the working square. Yarn over, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook).

With the wrong side of the next square facing, insert hook in the corner space. Yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook).

Yarn over, pull through all three loops.

Sc2tog in each stitch around, completing the first three sides.

Insert the pillow. Continue joining the last side together using the sc2tog to the last stitch. Do not join. Cut yarn and thread tail on a yarn needle. Bring the tail from back to front through the first stitch, top to bottom through the ending stitch, and bottom to top through the middle of the false stitch created. Weave in ends.

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  I still think it's a pretty boring-looking pillow compared to what it could be with a combination of colors... But what I think doesn't matter this time. We often want to make our work exciting with stripes and polka dot pops of color. But when you just need to make a practical pillow for a truck driver, that one-color skein that's been buried in the stash can come through to make a special gift... Even if it doesn't look like much to the crocheter's eyes.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Granny Panel Blanket

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  I gave this project the nickname of the "Change-Your-Mind Blanket" for three reasons: 1) If you're using scraps and you run out of a yarn, it's easy to keep busting that stash by changing colors. 2) Get bored with the pattern? Multiple panels give you plenty of space to practice different stitches for a sampler afghan. 3) Give up on finishing? (Because we all know that happens sometimes!) If you're working the pattern as written, then the long panels can be up-cycled into scarves for gift-giving, charity donations, or for yourself.

  Oh, and... Just a bonus reason to make this awesomely-easy pattern: Each panel begins with my favorite "chain-less" beginning. This effortless method makes the start of the panels go lightning-fast. Plus, it's so much easier to count the chain spaces instead of individual chains! For help, you can watch this method worked in a video for the Not-So-Mesh scarf which uses the same beginning.

  The version shown is made in four colors, keeping each panel a solid color and using a contrasting color for the seam. You could turn this project into a major stash-buster by changing colors within the rounds of the panels. The pieces are quick to work up with a no-chain beginning and simple "granny" stitch, plus a large hook makes it go even faster.

  If you're interested in some pictures of the panels before they were joined, see the post "Progress in Reverse". (There's a great example of why you should start the seam with a full One-Pound skein unless you want to join new yarn.) And to see the "finished" blanket before the border was added, see the followup post "Forward Progress".

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  **This is my project for September's GrannySpiration Challenge, so don't forget to go see what everyone else has created, too! (Find links at the end of this post.) **


Finished size:
52" (132 cm) wide; 64" (162.5 cm) length

Total yarn weight:
36 oz. / 1020 g
2.25 lbs. / 1 kg

Skill level:
Easy

Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I used a combination of Red Heart Super Saver in Light Blue (A) and Light Grey (B), plus Caron One Pound in White (C) and Black (D) 
Hook size N - 9mm
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional)

Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
5 rows of 16 double crochet

Notes:
Chain 1 at beginning of rounds does not count as a stitch. Chain 2 to meet the height of the double crochet if necessary.

Panels are worked in the round.

The single crochet stitch is used to join rounds in order to take the place of a chain-1 space.

A stitch diagram is included after the written pattern.

*Personal note about yarns used:
Colors A and D are used the most... I began with full jumbo (16 oz) skeins of each, and had very little left over. Color B came from my stash and worked to complete one panel with less than a 7-oz skein, so you could work with smaller skeins for A, B, and C. Although scraps will work for making the panels, I highly recommend starting with a jumbo skein for the joining (color D), which takes the most yarn. 

Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Single crochet
Half double crochet
Double crochet
Slip stitch

Pattern stitch:
(1 chain, 2 double crochet)
Worked just like the classic granny stitch, with one double crochet of the multiple removed.

Instructions for panels:
For pattern shown, make (3) color A, (2) color B,  and (2) color C.

Beginning row:
This chain-less beginning builds upwards to create the first "row" of the pattern. The stitches of the first round will be worked into the chain spaces. Remember you can find help for this beginning row in this video.

Chain 2, half double crochet in the farthest chain from the hook.
*Chain 2, half double crochet in the chain space between the previous chain-2 and half double crochet.*
Repeat from * to * 50 times for a total of 52 chain spaces (64" / 162.5 cm finished length of blanket), or work to desired length... Keep in mind that the remaining rounds and border will add about 6" to each end of the panel. 

Round 1:
Working into the half double crochet side of the spaces...
Chain 1, make 2 double crochet in the last chain space made.
*(1 chain, 2 double crochet) in each space to the end.*
(1 chain, 2 double crochet) twice more in the end space.
Working around into the chain-2 side of the spaces, repeat * to *.
In the last space, (1 chain, 2 double crochet) once more. (3 sets of 2-double crochet in the space.)
Join with a single crochet in the beginning double crochet (counts as chain-1 space).
**Optional** Mark the chain-1's of the corner spaces, found between the double crochet sets in each end space. (The single crochet joining stitch makes one corner of the pattern.)

Round 2:
Chain 1, make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
*(1 chain, 2 double crochet) in each space up to the corner chain-1.
In corner space, make (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet).*
Chain 1, (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the next corner space.
Repeat * to * up the next long side to remaining corner space.
Chain 1, make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
Join with a single crochet in the beginning double crochet.

Round 3:
Chain 1, make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
*(1 chain, 2 double crochet) in each space up to the corner chain-1.
In corner space, make (2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet).
(1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the next chain-1.*
(2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the next corner space.
Repeat * to *.
Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
Chain 1. Bind off, join with a false stitch by weaving the tail through the beginning stitch, back through the top of the last stitch, and through the middle of the false stitch (from bottom to top).


Joining:
**Panels can be joined using any technique you prefer. The following instructions are for a "seamless" continuous join. Click here to see a diagram/map for how to join squares in this method, but don't let it confuse you!.. Joining these long rectangular panels will be like working only one strip of squares (see a photo-tutorial example here). 


First panel:
Begin at the far end of the short side of a panel, using color D.
*Work 3 double crochet in each chain-1 space to corner.*
Make 3 more double crochet in the corner space. (6 total)
Repeat * to * across long side of panel, turn. (Do not complete as a corner!)

For each panel added:
Chain 1, turn.
Make 3 double crochet in the corner space (long side) of the next panel.
Chain 1, remove hook. Insert the hook in the space between the corner double crochet set and the next available set of the previous panel. (Hook should come from behind work and back towards you.) Pick up stitch and chain 1.
*3 double crochet in the next chain-1 of the current panel. Chain 1, remove hook. Insert the hook in the next space available of the previous panel and pick up stitch. Chain 1.*
Repeat from * to * to the corner space.
Make 3 more double crochet in the same space of the current panel.
3 double crochet in each chain-1 across short side to corner; 6 double crochet in the corner space; 3 double crochet in each chain-1 across long side, ending in corner space.

Repeat the step above for each remaining panel.
Complete the corner of the last panel with 3 more double crochet, then continue around the remainder of border with the 3-double-crochet stitch (twice in corners!).
Complete the last corner with 3 more double crochet (6 total). Bind off; join with a false stitch using the tail; weave in ends.

Border:
Using the same 3-double-crochet stitch pattern, work rounds of each color in the following order...
1-B
1-C
1-A
2-D

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Stitch diagram:

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Charts made with Stitch Fiddle

Happy Crocheting!


GrannySpiration Challenge:

  I do apologize for not having the linkup and giveaway available this month! In a fog of insomnia, I deleted my blog's background... And it's possible that I've done worse than that, because I can't get the code for the Challenge to convert - It just stays as code. Let's hope it's just a temporary glitch because I've done everything I can to fix it and I give up. You can still enter the giveaway and linkup (runs from 12 a.m. on Sept. 2nd, 2017 to 12 a.m. Sept. 18th) at EyeLoveKnots, where Alexandra doesn't accidentally delete working parts of her blog. 

And visit everyone else in the Challenge for some awesome granny-inspired projects!






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