Saturday, October 7, 2017

A House - GrannySpiration Challenge

We thought we got lucky at first, but we found out we were wrong when we went back with some flashlights and more time to inspect the house... 

  Those who follow the blog and have read my recent updates know I was one of many who lost their home to Hurricane Irma. This obviously makes it difficult to keep up with things like the GrannySpiration Challenge. It's been fun participating in the challenge and a great opportunity to work with other talented bloggers/crocheters, but I have no idea where my life will be going from here. I don't know if I can continue to commit to this monthly linkup and giveaway, so I'm choosing to give it up to make time to concentrate on where to go next... Meaning both mentally and literally finding a new house. For the month of October, for my last GrannySpiration Challenge, and to commemorate what was once my home, I'm sharing one last simple pattern: A house - My House.

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Don't forget to check out the links after the pattern to visit everyone in the Challenge and see what they've created! And as always, you can visit EyeLoveKnots to enter the giveaway and share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup.

  I hope you can understand that this pattern is not meant to be a big pity-party for myself... Inspiration for my project came from Sigrid of KatKatKatoen. I remembered a story she shared of both good and hard times, and wanted to recreate her project to lift my spirits. Sigrid has crocheted many bright, happy-looking houses, but in the end I felt like I couldn't make myself something so colorful when my home sits dark, empty, and full of mold.

  This project is quite pitiful compared to her fun and lighthearted houses... But please keep in mind that it is NOT meant to be so sad after all! As I sat staring at a tangle of black scrap yarn (yes, I saved the yarn), the idea suddenly hit me: This can be sort of like a funeral for my home. (I know... How is that not depressing, right?) This is my way of leaving it all behind; to move on to a time and place where I will be able to get back to happy crocheting. For now, this black house full of holes represents what I have left, and I look forward to crocheting one of Sigrid's happy homes when I find one of my own.

  You could crochet this pattern in color for a less-depressing motif to use for a housewarming gift... Wouldn't it be cute attached as a tag to a basket of goodies? I also could see it sewn to a pillow, towel topper, or as part of the gift basket itself - A crocheted basket, of course. 😉 See, I've still got the ideas, just not the energy to make them happen yet. I think it has a lot more potential if created by someone in a better mood than me!

Skill level:

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I used some scrap of Caron One Pound in Black - Total weight: Less than 0.5 oz/ 14 g
Crochet hook size H/8 - 5 mm
Yarn needle

Not important

Chain 2 at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch.

Gauge is not important... You can use a different hook size for a larger or smaller house, but it's also easy to add or subtract rows to change size (see notes in instructions).

(American terms)
Double crochet
Slip stitch

*The pattern begins with the triangle that creates the roof of the house. See the note after Row 3 if working more/less rows for the size of your house.

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Begin with a magic circle, or chain-3 and join into a loop with a slip stitch.

Row 1:
Chain 2. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in beginning loop.
*If using a magic circle, you may wish to wait before tightening your loop. Stitches will be worked into this space again when creating the wall of the house. (You could go ahead and tighten it a little if you wish to work over your tail - just leave yourself enough space for your hook!)

Row 2:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
Chain 1. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner space/point of triangle.
Chain 1, make 3 double crochet in the last stitch.

Row 3:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
(3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner chain-2 space.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
**2 double crochet in the last space.
Chain 2, slip stitch in the same space.**

If a larger triangle is desired, end Row 3 with 3 double crochet. 
Continue working more rows in the same manner: 3 double crochet in the first stitch; (1 chain, 3 double crochet) in each chain-1 space, (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the point/chain-2 space, and so on...
Work from ** to ** in the last stitch of the final row of your triangle.

Moving on to the "wall" of the house, we'll now work across the bottom of the triangle...

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Row 4:
Chain 2, DO NOT turn.
Make 2 double crochet in the same space as the slip stitch. 
*Do not work into the post-spaces of the stitches across the side. Instead, work into the same spaces that contain the sets of double crochet stitches.
2 double crochet in the next space, 2 double crochet in the beginning loop, 2 double crochet in the next space, and 2 double crochet in the last space.

All following rows:
Chain 2, turn.
1 double crochet in the first stitch, and each stitch across.
(10 double crochet total)

I worked four rows this way before finishing. 
Bind off, weave in ends.

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Happy Crocheting!

Whether on wheels or the ground, in a valley or on a hill
May your house always stand around you, strong and still.
Should nature ever destroy your place to dwell,
Remember this one thing, and remember it well:
Possessions and walls will never fill your heart,
But a smile on your face is the way to stay smart.
A house is just a house, and you make your home...
Memories stay with you wherever you roam.

  Of course it's hard to replace sentimental things like family photos or that memento given to you by a special person, but things are just things in the end. And it can be difficult to go from having your own home to moving back into a room at your dad's house at the age of 33, which I feel is well past the time to become independent from your parents... To be alive and safe - even if you cry yourself to sleep every night because you don't know what else to do right now and you wish you could just go talk to your dog's grave like usual - It's part of being alive. Life will get better someday. Until then, I hope you will continue to share my patterns and tutorials while I'm unable to create more... It's the biggest way you can help to support me at this time. 💗

  It's been a great experience to participate in the GrannySpiration Challenge and a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. This may be the end of the Challenge for me, but there are some wonderful bloggers who will continue to share their lovely patterns and inspiration with the world... Please don't forget to support them, too!

PS - To add insult to injury, I've had an irritating spammer hitting the blog's comment section nonstop while I'm unable to tend to it as I usually would... As a result, I've enabled comment moderation. So if you leave a comment, expect it to disappear! It will not be visible until I have time to approve it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mayflower Lace Stitch Diagram (pattern update)

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  I thought it would be fun to re-work an old design of mine, the Mayflower Lace scarf, in a different yarn and hook size than originally used. I came across a tutorial I had forgotten about making when I pulled up the pattern... I immediately felt like deleting the post because it's so horrible, but I think I'll leave it up just in case you want to check out the old way I made stitch charts. 😳 It seems embarrassingly unprofessional to me now, but it worked for those that needed help back then. It may even still be helpful to see the geometric pattern without all the symbols, but... Now that I've found Stitch Fiddle, it's time to make this graph the right way.

  I also realized that the tutorial linked in the pattern and graph posts no longer exist, so the whole thing is a mess! I was working on rewriting the pattern and recreating the tutorial with Caron Cotton Cakes, and I even tried to make the pattern a bit easier by working in between the stitches instead of directly into them. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with what I started because I wasn't quite happy with how the stitch looked with all the changes... Then Hurricane Irma hit us and my work got tossed in bags and bins.

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  Until I find it again and make up my mind, I hope you can enjoy the better chart! This diagram may be a bit confusing at first glance because I created a new symbol to represent the modified stitch... If you need additional help, I did find my original tutorial still available in video form (it's just a slideshow of the picture tutorial). That is a step-by-step lesson for the whole project, so just skip ahead to about 3:00 to see how to work the modified stitch. You can also avoid using the modified stitch and work a regular long single crochet in its place, which will make the stitches a bit more lacy. Find the original written pattern for the whole scarf here.

Click to enlarge diagram:
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  Skipping that modified stitch might make the pattern easier, but I just love the extra texture added by the post-like stitch. Made in worsted weight yarn, it all comes together to make something both lacy and bulky at the same time.

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  If I was to work the stitch in a lighter weight yarn, I think I would like to use the regular long single crochet to create an extra-delicate fabric. Are you interested in experimenting with this stitch in different yarns? I'd love it if you share a photo of your work on Crochet is the Way's Facebook page.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Help Needed

  Although that picture of Michaels finally being open might inspire thoughts of craft supplies (most importantly, yarn), I am not here to tell you of my newest purchase. I'm here because I'm sad, angry, and begging for help from the rest of the world. No... Not help just for me, but help for the entire county where I live. Please share this story. We are damaged after Hurricane Irma and we have been forgotten.

  Before the storm: September 9th. The emptiest I've ever seen a Walmart in my life. That's because it was closed as Irma began to roll through Florida...

  September 10th: Irma begins rolling through central Florida in earnest, and we watch the water rise from Dad's back porch in the last chances to be outside before it really got serious.

  September 11th: A day when many Americans were remembering those lost in the terror attacks. In Highlands County, it was forgotten by most as we emerged from our safety zones to view a world that was once again changed forever.

  99% of the county without power, and no FEMA in sight. Why? They tell us it's because FEMA was never scheduled to be here... The hurricane wasn't predicted to hit the area so hard.

  And while the news talked of Tampa, the Florida Keys, Miami, and other lesser-hit areas, Highlands County sat glued to radios in hopes of getting some information. Cleanup began without help from the government, but signs can be seen hung in places around town: "FEMA, where are you?"

  A week later, and still many without power. The famous Harder Hall sits abandoned and now damaged, but is still a favorite view of mine. (I just love abandoned buildings.) The streetlights on the main highway are still out. I do my best to snap as many pictures as possible while helping Rip keep an eye out for debris and dumb drivers.

    Highlands County gets brief mentions on the news stations, like with this area. A group of horses had to be rescued from chest-deep water. The stables are off to the left, behind those trees. But what's across the highway that got no mention whatsoever?...

  Oh, it's just a trailer park where every house is under water. No big story for the Tampa news, right? I mean, people that live in one-bedroom trailers in a tiny little park probably have plenty of resources and money to rebuild, right???

  I'm not asking you to make donations. I want you to help share their stories. These are the people that have been forgotten when they need help the most. These are the people the news doesn't want to cover, because maybe their homes aren't pretty enough for the evening highlights.

  They are the people that can look across the highway and know that the water still isn't going away fast enough...

  And with flood levels still being so high, they're probably praying for their lives with each passing rain cloud.

  Closer to civilization and on the main highway, things are getting back to something-like-normal. Taco Bell is finally open for those who can get there...

  And the waves on Lake Jackson have calmed to gentle ripples. Some might drive down the main road through town and see it as a beautiful sight.

  But if you take the time to get off the highway (unlike the local news), you'll still find high waters and the people who are living in them.

  There are places that are getting better...

  And then there are places where rivers have formed in drainage ditches.

  Some spots have obviously been a problem for a while. I'm not sure if the local residents have taken to dumping material here to keep the water out, or if it was a poor attempt by the county itself...

  But as you drive by, you can see that the attempts have failed.

  The water has been rushing over the rubble and biting at the banks. The erosion is getting dangerously close to washing out the road.

  Near that road, more houses can be found. Homes with no electricity. No power to cool refrigerators to keep food. No way to run an air conditioner in the humid, 90+ degree heat of Florida. Perhaps they can run a fan if they're luck to have a generator, but not all do.

  Crews may be at work, but there are still trees down on power lines. There are lines down in roads. And still people are living in their homes, cleaning up what they can in the hot Florida sun.

  Evidence of cleanup is all over the county. Piles of brush and debris line the sides of roads every direction you turn. Yet still, the garbage company refuses to pick up more than once a week. Locals are able to make extra money if they have a truck and trailer, subcontracting for the county by doing part of the cleanup.

  Some places look fine at first, until you turn a corner to find another tree on a line...

  And other places are cleaned up and repaired, but still have no power due to damage in nearby locations.

  What once were big, beautiful trees have now become hazards on the side of the road. One could think "it's just a tree", but we see more than that... Limbs close to the road are causing drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic. Debris gets flung up by tires to land on the windshield of the vehicle behind. It's not "just a tree". It's a danger.

  In middle-class neighborhoods, tarps cover roofs and ruined belongings sit out for the trash...

  But in low-class areas, trees are on houses. Five days later, there are no tarps here... Only neighbors helping as much as they can to clean up while taking turns cooling off in the shade. It may be true that some of them are on government benefits. Certain people say they don't deserve more help because of it. But I'd like to know how they're supposed to fix this on their own when they're already low income and can't afford generators, cleanup equipment, or the expense of having to buy prepared food in a pinch. Yet they are out there cleaning up as much as they can with their bare hands, waiting for help that still hasn't come.

  Gas is still in short supply in certain areas. Fuel pumps have been damaged, and some places don't have electricity to run the station. Those who live in these locations away from the main highway aren't out of the woods yet... Some don't have enough gas to drive to an open station, and it's miles (and miles) to walk to fill a can.

  This is an area that has been known to flood for a long time. We were all under the impression that the county was working on a solution. I suppose they haven't found it yet.

  But around the corner, somebody is working on another problem. The road home is closed. I have to go the long way around. So, let's look at some more of how Highlands County is "recovering"...

  Homes with water up to their doors...

  Water still over roads and in yards...

  And places that are a little scary to drive through because you can't see if there is still a road under that water until you drive through it.

  Some places are getting better...

  But the whole town stinks like stagnant water and rotting garbage.

  Cleanup efforts are stronger in higher-income neighborhoods.

  And some places almost look normal again despite the piles of brush waiting to be collected.

  On the new way "home", bright skies and sunny fields could almost make me smile.

  Turning a corner on a back road, you could barely tell a hurricane ever went through here. Nothing but a few piles of pine needles gathering along the edges of the street...

  But that is not the way to my house, because this is what my ceiling looks like after Hurricane Irma destroyed my home.

  With the first quick inspection, we saw a roof still on the house and standing walls - More than we expected to find when we returned.

  As I return every day to feed the stray cats that are left behind, I find more damage we missed in our excitement of seeing the mobile home still standing.

  Every day, the mold gets darker and creeps farther across the ceiling. As I was loading the photos for this post, my dad was watching the news. They were featuring a story about how homeowners were returning to the Florida Keys to find mold in their homes... I can sympathize. But I can't understand why the news isn't concerned about covering the same story in an area closer to home. The same thing is happening to homeowners here, but nobody seems to care.

  Hidden behind a storage cabinet in the bathroom, Irma's winds pushed in my walls. Sure, they were ugly walls in an old mobile home, but they were my ugly walls in my home. I'm lucky the wall is still there and my things aren't blown across the neighborhood. There are people in this town that can't say the same. Yet we only get a short mention during the news... Power is expected to be restored... Soon.

  The bedroom wall that we never got to finish... Mold.

  The ceiling in the kitchen that is falling in: Mold.

  The window I used to love to look out of to watch the birds: Mold. And what's left of my greenhouse, destroyed.

  You're probably starting to get the point by now, right? My floors that were supposed to be finished next month: Mold.

  And mold. More mold. As the "local" news is covering a few sights that can be seen from the highway and moving on to the more-important Florida Keys' mold problem, I wonder why they act like we don't have the same problem in Highlands County. It makes me angry.

  I still count myself lucky that my house doesn't look like the travel trailer at the back of our yard. It didn't make it, just like our shed. But, hey! We did find part of that shed after all. The door landed about 400 feet away from the house, and part of three walls - Or maybe it's the roof and two walls, we can't even tell because it's just a pile of flattened metal - Is about 100 feet away from that. We think the rest might be in the neighbor's pond.

  We can't live in our home due to contamination. We don't even know how much of our things we can salvage from it without getting sick. And with the foundation blocks skewed, I'm not sure if it's safe to try. Still today, eight days later, there is no power in the neighborhood. But we have a place to stay at Dad's, and hot food to eat.

  There are people camping in their cars in parking lots here. We need FEMA, just like the signs around town say. We need the news to acknowledge we exist with more than a brief mention of when electricity will be restored. WE NEED HELP. And I don't mean me, I mean the whole area and all the people in it that were affected by Irma. Please share this story any way you can, as many ways as you can to get the word out. With not much money left and no home to return to myself, this is the only thing I can do to get help for those that need it.

Thank You!

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