Friday, December 6, 2019

Holiday Throwback

  The holiday season is upon us and all I really want for Christmas is to finish my house! Of course that won't actually happen in time... You can see my updates in the last post in case you missed it. In the meantime, I'd like to remind you that there are a few simple holiday-themed projects already available here on the Crochet is the Way blog:

snowflake, winter, Christmas, holiday, free crochet pattern,

  • First, there are these Simple Snowflakes that use a modified picot stitch to create sharp points:

snowflake, winter, Christmas, free crochet pattern, easy

  Note: The links back to my tutorials on Guidecentral are no longer available... It seems I have some cleaning up to do on the blog! But you can find a photo tutorial for how to make the picot stitch in the pattern for the Eye of the Emerald Mandala.

  • Next we have a Holiday Trio of patterns which could be used as ornaments, jewelry and more:

holidays, snowflake, candy drop, Christmas tree, free crochet pattern

  Again, this is another post which contains links that no longer work, so I do apologize for the inconvenience! (I suppose that's always something I can work on getting done if I have my house finished in time for the holidays next year.) However, I do think the pattern for the candy drops is very simple to follow. Imagine making them using giant plarn and finger crochet like I did for my Giant Plarn Granny Squares!... That would make a cool yard decoration. (And the links actually work in that post, so you can get a photo tutorial and a video, too!)

  The Christmas trees are more complicated, and the snowflake earrings are probably the most difficult just because of the way I wrote the pattern. They finish in just two rounds! You could also make them with a worsted weight yarn and bigger hook for some quick decorations.

  • For the last of the snowflake patterns, there is another multi-pattern, the Snowflake Set:

snowflake, winter, coaster, ornament, Christmas, free crochet pattern

snowflake, winter, doily, ornament, Christmas, free crochet pattern

  As a bonus I'll include the link for the followup post in which I turned these pieces into a wall hanging, however, it's less of a tutorial and more of a "what NOT to do". I really should just stick to crocheting!

snowflake, winter, Christmas, wall hanging, art, doilies, holiday

  There are a few more holiday-themed patterns to be found around here, but I had some trouble retrieving more pictures. Check out the ever-popular Angel Decoration and the Magic Angel as well.

  Also if you're interested, the Holly Holiday Table Runner is for sale in my Ravelry store:

crochet pattern, Ravelry, holiday, table runner, holly, Christmas

  Please enjoy these patterns while I remain on hiatus. I'm eager to return to working on new patterns, but this house is just... What's the word I repeatedly used in the last post? UGH.

  I was happy to finally get my washer and dryer hooked up until we realized that the dryer vent hookup is pushed too far into the wall to actually use as a hookup... And then there's the outlet that came out of the wall when we moved the dryer back out to fix the vent... UGH again. Spray-foam insulation is NOT the proper way to attach an outlet to the wall! I'll save the pictures of that mess for the next house-update post.

  Until then,

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

From Crochet to Construction Worker

  After another lengthy absence from the blog, I have a ton of WIP photos to share with you. However, there's not much crocheting going on around here anymore! I can't say I'm not crocheting at all because I have had a few projects on the hook recently... But for the past year my main job title has gone from crocheter to construction worker. At least I can share with you the first completed (crochet) project since we bought our nightmare new house:

  This crochet kit has a short story: My stepdaughter is learning to crochet (yay!), and she asked for some help with this "easy" project. I'll give that kit a short review of "not for beginners". Requiring single, double and triple crochet stitches, along with embroidery to complete the facial features... Plus fringe and sewing on a button? I wouldn't consider this an easy project for a beginner! (It wasn't all that easy for me with the sewing and embroidery, either.) 

  Sure, the package contains everything you need, but much of it fell short on quality. The DK weight yarn has a loose twist that splits easily, you barely get enough yarn to finish the project (no room for mistakes), and even the included yarn needle had a too-small eye that made threading the yarn a pain.

  That's all the crochet I can share with you after almost a whole year. The rest of my "WIP" photos might be a warning of why not to buy a foreclosure house unless you're prepared. The good news is that we're moved in now, but the bad news is that we're living in the middle of a construction zone. Boy, does this house have a long story which will require more than one post to finish! Here's a great place to start:

  I prefer to not have more colors on my walls than in my yarn stash. Painting the house was the easiest thing I could get started on, so as soon as we got the keys I began filling all those holes. Even that couldn't be an easy job because of the weird things I kept finding along the way, such as "what is this wire for and why was it painted to the wall?" and later discovering that every window had one of those wires painted to the wall around it. Thankfully, we learned it was just for an old security system. It was easy to cut the wires off the rest of the way and patch the remaining holes.

   So why couldn't the previous owners do the same before they painted? More on that later... There are so many questions we'll never answer, like: Who thought it would be a good idea to hang that shelf (the bulky thing on the floor) from nothing but drywall? Why did they remove almost all the kitchen cabinets? (Not shown in the next picture: Why did the remaining cabinets not go all the way to the wall even though the counter top did?)

  Maybe the answers were in the biggest question I kept asking while working: What is that smell? Marijuana was that smell and it would get really heavy at times, overpowering the scents of urine (yuck) and what I presume was carpet powder used to cover the smell of the urine. Once we started finding drug paraphernalia stashed in random places, I stopped trying to answer the questions of why. I just assume drug use had something to do with forgetting to paint the walls all the way to the ceiling:

  As soon as we found the burnt glass tubes stashed under the edges of carpet and in light fixtures, the answer became even more clear: This wasn't absentmindedness caused by smoking weed... We're dealing with some screwed up crackhead stuff here. That helps explain the window sills that fell off because they had been glued on, along with the double light switch that only operates the exhaust fan in the bathroom while the real light switch is on the other side of the wall:

   Should I bother mentioning another color on the walls, or the vanity that is chest-height on me? Oh, there were so many more problems just in that bathroom alone. But we can move along, because there's plenty more problems rooms to tour. Yup, plenty of rooms that look like the walls were used as a dartboard:

  I've patched a lot of holes and I've covered a lot of colors. I now have the experience to inform you that it takes two coats of primer and two more coats of paint to cover a color like this:

  The dark room was supposed to be my office, but it has now been changed to the kid's room. And that's because the room that was supposed to be the kid's room still looks like this:

  The most I can say about that situation is "UGH". Let's move on to what we found when we removed (what was left of) the kitchen cabinets:

    WHY? What were they thinking when they cut through a main stud in the wall to fit in a diagonal drain pipe that is ridiculously far away from the water lines? I know exactly what happened here... They moved the sink over from its original location, and had enough skill to move the water lines. But when it came to tying in the new drain pipe to the (much-needed) vent pipe... Um, NO. That's not how you do it! 

  Thankfully, Rip van Winkle has enough plumbing experience to fix that problem. It took some thinking and some fighting with it, as well as a few trips to the hardware store, but we finally got that situation straightened out: 

  And with my skill of patching drywall, we turned it into a proper-looking and proper-working kitchen sink... Well, I guess it's still just plumbing in this photo, but now we're able to use our fully-functioning kitchen! 

  There are still a few major problems to work on, such as the other bathroom:

  Yes, those are floor tiles used on the wall; and no, they didn't put them up the right way so they are falling off. Oh yeah, and there's another color! Not shown, I already painted the BEIGE ceiling. But who cares about the paint color when tiles are falling off the wall? (PS, grout goes in between the tiles, not over them.) I won't even show you the state of the tub in there. It makes me gag every time I look at it. Plus that tub's drain isn't plumbed into the pipe... Ugh, the whole bathroom needs to be renovated, but at least now we can use it as a half-bath.

  There are other minor problems I'd like to fix someday, like the baseboards:

  And there are other minor problems I've already fixed, like how this door casing was on top of the light switch cover:

  Actually, fixing that wasn't so "minor" after all! The doors shown above and below both needed to be replaced along with their frames, which I had a basic idea of how to do. The job ended up being more difficult because I chose to save money by going with a frame kit instead of buying a ready-hung door in a frame.

  Well, I learned how to build and install a door frame! And the previous owners had already provided an example of how NOT to do it:

   Oh, and we saved more money going with the frame kit because I ended up finding the non-existent bathroom door hanging on the air-handler closet which is located right in the middle of the kitchen. I guess they figured since the door couldn't close in that messed-up frame, they might as well use the door somewhere else. Because who needs a bathroom door, right?

  But the frame for that closet wasn't made for a doorknob to latch in, so the door didn't really close there, either! I reclaimed the door for the bathroom, and we purchased a much-cheaper bi-fold closet door for the air-handler. While Rip van Winkle was installing the bottom piece for that, we found the strangest situation yet:

  Is that Styrofoam under the tile? WHAT?!? It took me a while to finally figure it out. We were purchasing the supplies to install some laminate flooring, and I saw the underlayment... That's the Styrofoam stuff we found under the tile! Why would they put that under tile? Oh, I figured that out soon enough: There's another layer of tile under what you can see. They tiled over tile. And in between the two layers of tile, they added a layer of the stuff you use under laminate flooring. It's like that in both bathrooms and the kitchen. UGH.

  Well, it was easy to decide that ripping out two layers of tile is a renovation that will have to wait. For now, we'll keep dealing with the flooring that pops and cracks as you walk on it. You just have to be careful when in bare feet, because the chunks of grout that keep breaking out really hurt when you step on them.

  There are so many more messed up things I could share about this house! I was hoping to get to some before-and-after photos soon, but I have a whole 'nother post worth of "what we had to fix". I'll simply finish the complaining the "WIP's" with the most confusing thing I can't stop thinking about, even though it doesn't really matter one bit... How in the hell did they get this nail in the wall like that?

   Okay, that's more than enough for one post. I wanted to put a "big reveal" together when the whole house was done, but it looks like that will be a while! For now, I'll give you a sneak peak at how my (self-designed) kitchen turned out:

  There are handles on those drawers now, too. And last weekend, the mess in the laundry room got turned into a washer and dryer! There's still so much left to do, but it feels so good to finally have a place to call "home" again. Until next time...

Happy Remodeling!
Oh wait, I think I can remember how this is supposed to go...
Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

One Year and Counting

  Dear friends and followers, I have neglected you and the blog for far too long. Life has become so overwhelming that I just couldn't bear to write anything at all... Every post would have been another rambling mess of "it's getting worse". More than a year has passed since we lost our home to Hurricane Irma, and we're still living at Dad's (for now). But if all goes right, we will be closing on our new home within the next few weeks! Now that the gears are turning in the right direction, I'd like to update those of you who have been worried and share some photos to prove I've still been at the hook:    

  I was super-exited to share this cardigan with all of you as soon as it was finished, but I couldn't. I probably would have continued blogging (and complaining) throughout this ordeal if it weren't for all of the tech-related issues that came crashing down on me. On top of problems with all of my devices, I couldn't access the blog for about three months... And that was a really scary time of not knowing what to do, how to fix it, or if the site's security was at risk. It turned out to just be a glitch on Google's side, but by the time the problem was resolved I had lost all motivation to write.

  Once I finally got my tech together enough to try working on anything, I was faced with over 2,000 comments that needed moderation. Trying to sort the real people from spam was the most overwhelming part. It seemed like the load of spam increased every time I responded to a legitimate comment.

  Convinced that my comment section has become tainted, I made the decision to delete ALL comments. I'm sorry to anyone who has left a comment and didn't get a response. I'm sad to see it all vanish into non-existence: The wonderful conversations with friends, so many thank you's, a few minor debates, heartfelt stories shared by others and all the stuff in between is just... Gone

  That thought is what made me realize I'm still not ready to get back to full-time blogging. The comment situation once again reminded me of how many times I've had that "gone" feeling over the past year (and counting). There was the initial loss of the house, then my cat Gilly was killed by one of those damned poisonous toads. I wasn't sad to finally see my stupid car go... But when we stopped by the property to make sure the car had been removed by the buyer, I was nowhere near prepared for the "gone" feeling that struck me when we saw what was left of our house (and what was left of our un-salvageable belongings inside) demolished into a heap of rubble, scattered across the ground and piled in a construction dumpster. It took one piece of machinery to crush ten years of our lives into a garbage heap. I cried for hours afterward. And then I went home and crocheted the pain away.

  So even after I regained control of the blog, I just...Couldn't. I couldn't decide what to do when I ran out of yarn for that vest. I couldn't concentrate on patterns to publish. I couldn't find the time to make tutorials on my new schedule. I couldn't stop feeling like everything near me breaks and somehow it's all my fault. I couldn't bear to keep bringing you all down with more of my bad news... Hell, I couldn't even bring myself to catch up on anyone else's blog because it felt like too much pressure. I couldn't fake being happy and I couldn't admit how depressed I've been. I couldn't even put any of my pictures into a post that made sense, so I dumped them all here and just stared at the page every time I tried again.

  Then I finally realized: In all those "can't's", there's one thing I can do. I can start somewhere. Anywhere! And maybe it doesn't have to be perfect. Maybe I don't spend as much time as I'd like checking grammar and labeling photos... It bothers me, but maybe all that's not so important. Maybe I don't have to concentrate so much on writing a pattern for every single thing I create. Maybe sometimes I just share a little. Maybe I'll finally learn that a pattern is not a total disaster just because I decide that I don't like the colors I chose to create it, like with this scarf: 

  C'mon, we all know there's no chance of that last one happening... Anybody remember the time I ripped back an entire shawl because I didn't like the way the colors were pooling?

  I am very pleased with the way the shawl above came out... But I made a tiny mistake while writing the pattern, and it killed any hopes I had of getting the design into my store. Although it will give me a great excuse to buy more of that beautiful yarn for another attempt, it's going to have to wait. Right now my mind is dedicated to inspections, surveys, insurance and closing; along with getting utilities and internet turned on when all that is done.

  Once we close on the new house, there will much work to do before we can actually move in... It's a foreclosure. First it needs paint, because I think there's more colors on the walls, ceilings and doors than in my yarn stash. Then it needs a good cleaning, some kitchen cabinets, appliances, and hopefully not much else because we still have to replace all the furniture we lost. Plus, there's the actual moving... Sigh. Yes, it will still be a while before I'm ready to be back full-time. But it's good to finally have the motivation to write something.

  You still won't see me on social media, and I'm not sure if I'll ever go back. Besides the spam that passes through filters here and on Google +, I'm sick of being harassed on all platforms by random guys that seem to think women are only there for a date... With all the spam-junk I have to sort through, I don't need pictures of any man-junk - Thank you but NO, I'm not interested in running away with a Nigerian prince - Since when did personal messaging part of Pinterest get so darn naughty?

  So, I've been kinda disgusted with the internet. I hope you can understand why I've retreated into the darkness. I'll be back, I promise! Just remember, we don't use that word "soon" around here anymore... We just wait patiently and hope things don't get worse.

Happy Crocheting!

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