Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Secrets are Out

  My friends, I must apologize... I come here tonight to complain and work my thoughts out. If you're not interested in yesterday's drama, then I invite you to look at the pretty pictures of my close-but-still-not-finished project (plus a kitty pic) and move on. It's okay to share my super-secret project in full now, because The Kid caught a sneak peek when I forgot to put it away in an emergency. Allow me to reveal it in a fashion less dramatic and suspenseful than my day went:

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn


  The opening scene - Rip van Winkle had another wonderful 3 a.m. job, so we're exhausted to begin with. Coffee is the drink of the day. I got to spend the morning disinfecting the house (Rip is still fighting that infection) so my dad could drop The Boy off. I got a few stitches worked on my project in between loads of laundry. The plan: Have a nice day with The Boy until Rip gets home, then I'll take him back to Dad's house after dinner.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn


  Dinner scene - Pizza, delivered. It's been a long day. The pizza had half the toppings melted off into the side of the box. It was also cold. No more stitches got done on the project. Instead, it sat moved into the corner so we could eat our less-than-good dinner. Rip promptly fell asleep at the table, and I got ready to leave with The Boy.

  Transportation scene - Rip woke up and insisted that I can't drive my own car again. I waited for him to get ready. He starts the car, and the first thing I ask is "what's wrong with the car?"... It's running awfully rough. He notices nothing different until he puts it in gear and: SLAM! No. No, no, no, no, no, no NO! Okay, go drive it and see what it does so I can figure this out...

  We made it down the driveway and to the stop sign. The car stalled. Go home. I know this problem. Just go home, because we won't make it to the next town. This is the thing I used to do for a living, my other forte, and the thing I've fixed twice on this car. Check the transmission fluid... Full of metal shavings. πŸ˜’

  The call to Dad - He came to get The Boy, and I forgot to put the super-secret project away. When The Kid came in and saw it, she automatically gasped and turned away because she knew it was supposed to be a secret. (Good kid.) But now that secret is out, so I let her get a look at it instead of stashing it away. She thinks it's "absolutely beautiful", and understands that the finished project isn't going to look exactly like what she sees here... So, it can still be a little bit of a secret until it's done.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn


  A long, angry message to a car company about something that's no secret - Ford, I hate your designs and your "hardened" pump shaft replacement that doesn't make the crappy transmission you put in the Taurus ANY better! The unit is too light-duty for the weight of the car, and that's only part of why this continues to happen every 4-6 years or 100,000 miles. It still moves, so I know the hub on the torque converter isn't stripped out again - Yet. But it would be if I could keep driving it, Ford. It would be. And my transmission would puke out all its fluid, leaving me completely stranded for the THIRD time. I rebuilt that transmission twice. You know the only thing that was wrong with it - twice? The pump shaft. A whole rebuild for your stupid, crappy, too-small-diameter pump shaft that needs a whole PUMP redesign, not just a hardened shaft. And let's not forget that you made it SOOOOOOO easy to get the unit out of the car to begin with... Dropping the frame isn't easy when you're just over 100 lbs. Frankly, Ford, I think the replacement part you insisted would be fine in the recall notice SUCKS. Take that hardened pump shaft and...

  Never mind. I shouldn't threaten that because I want you to keep listening, not chase you away... Ford, I also think it sucks that you blame this problem on ME when I complain. Is it my driving? No. (Well, it would be Rip's driving, not mine...) Is it the age or the mileage on the car? No! It's because I rebuilt the transmission in my own car instead of having it done by a "qualified" mechanic. But, um... Hey, Ford? I'm not a femi-nazi, but I hate the way your "techs" talk to me like I'm an idiot. Just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I wasn't qualified, and it's not illegal for a mechanic to work on her own vehicle in a certified shop, is it? How many times do I need to be asked if I knew what I was doing? My favorite transmission to build is an old one, but a good one even when it's just stock-built. I loved upgrading the 700R4's with full-race shift kits; drill out the valve body and change out the plate; install Koleen steels and Redline clutches. I've changed out pumps, drums, and clutch sets to convert them to three- and two- speed 350's (something a Ford tech once told me couldn't be done); upgraded to truly hardened, race-grade shafts. (My god, it was a beautiful monster when I was done.) They went down the strip in a blaze of glory again and again, standing behind the amazing torque and power of 500+hp. Oh, but wait - They were all in a Chevy but one... That was in a home-built swamp buggy. I've fixed everything I've ever owned on my own, built and rebuilt everything from race cars to minivans, and never had a complaint from a customer or left myself broken down. Ford, the first replacement "hardened" pump shaft I put in this car made it 600 miles before stripping out again. Your design just SUCKS, but you don't want to admit it. If you can't redesign the pump, then try figuring out what causes the feed hole to the shaft to get plugged up. The lack of fluid causes the shaft to overheat, and the small diameter allows the metal to weaken quickly under the high temps.

  Oh, and on a slightly related subject: You kinda did the same sort of thing when you changed from the E4OD's to the 4R100's and put a weaker-duty torque converter behind a heavy-duty diesel. Your customers shouldn't have to upgrade to a $600-$900 converter just because they tow with a heavy-duty truck. It's a heavy-duty truck. It should already hold up to towing.

But hey, I'm just a girl that had to stand on a box to build the bottom-end of those beasts... What do I know? All I do is play with yarn and make pretty things. πŸ˜„

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn


  The decision - I no longer have access to a shop, a lift, or all the tools I need to do another rebuild. None of that matters because I'm sending Rip to go trade this hunk of junk in (if it will make it). While he's not here to repeatedly ask if I know what I'm doing, I'll be draining the milkshake out of my sabotaged truck. And yes, I said sabotaged. I've been asking questions, and somebody let slip another secret that proves my suspicion... The person I had trusted to fix my truck did indeed "destroy" it on purpose. But I don't need no stinkin' special tools to fix my Chevy. Now that I know exactly what he did, I know I can fix it. You gotta love big mouths when they're not talking about you. Sometimes my life is like a bad soap opera without the romance.

  I'm tired of not having a vehicle to drive even though I own two vehicles. So, there will be no more stitching this weekend. I'll be spending the next few days in my old elements of grease, dirt and metal. There will be no yarn play until it's done. Wondering over and over, "what are we going to do when we live ten-plus miles from town and now have no vehicle?", I think I lost my mind for awhile today. It's okay, I had some more coffee and I found it again. I'm not helpless, and my hands aren't as bad as they were when I was forced to end my career. I will fix it. And when I can wash the grease from under my nails and get back to stitching, The Kid and I can take a ride in the ol' Chevy to get a celebratory coffee while she wears her awesomely beautiful duster - A knee-length duster with a split tail, just like she wanted.
...After I get good pictures, of course. This pattern will be for-sale only, because I have no choice.

crochet, duster, coat, knee-length, Charisma, yarn


  The other secret that's out - If you're not affected by Google's latest algorithm change, then maybe you're not pulling your hair out trying to figure out what to do now that you have no income. It's the reason I was already on the edge of crazy before the car took it's last shuddering breath. And that's why I needed to spew a ton of nonsense onto this page. Come with me, friends, and imagine the internet of this new algorithm...

  An internet where a computer decides that good information isn't as important as frequency. An internet where content creators are rewarded for uploading more often. Do you know what that means? A lot of thin-content webpages spit out by people that no longer have time to sleep because they have to continuously create more and more to keep their earnings up. I could put up a new picture of a pile of dog poo every day, and Google wouldn't care as long as I keep uploading more. Dog poo is exactly what the internet will be full of if this continues. Subscribers, views, shares... None of it matters as much as pushing out the next thing.

  But no, I won't play along with that. I will write what I want, when I want; and upload as many videos as my patience can tolerate. They will all be things that matter to me. Maybe it's silly, or sad, or an angry rant to a car company... Perhaps it's not all educational or informative. At least I can say that none of it has ever been pushed out for the sake of making money. That's just something I hope happens on the side.

  How you can help - No, I'm not going to beg for donations or ask you to subscribe. Asking for clicks on ads is not allowed, and they wouldn't make me any money now, anyway. But I can ask one thing: And I'm not even talking about just helping me. For the love of all webpages you appreciate and good-content creators, please turn off your ad blocker if you use one. (You can keep it on for the ones you don't like. πŸ˜‰) Seriously, you can really let the creator know you love them by (maybe) helping them earn another fraction of a penny.

  And as for me - There's just no other solution in sight at this time. I have to spend more time creating for-sale patterns, and stop providing so many for free. I don't mind sharing my designs when the blog helps pay for the yarn that goes into the projects. But when my "job" stops paying anything, I have to find a new way to help support my habit along with my household. I don't understand the reason algorithm changes have to happen any more than I can get why Ford insists on putting half-baked designs in their vehicles. I just know that both leave me broke and they SUCK. 

Happy Crocheting!

PS- Does Google's decision-making computer understand how hard bloggers have to work to make a penny? I mean, c'mon! You think it's all yarn and flowers with a nice hot cup of coffee around here? No! There's dirty kitchens in the background and cats on our feet during photo shoots while the coffee gets cold in the microwave again:

cats, crochet, blogging, photos, kitty pics


It's like, worse than a "real" job. Everybody thinks you can take off all the time you want and we have to clean the bathrooms ourselves. 

(Thanks for listening.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Decisions, Buttons, and Gender Neutrality

  I'm still working on that super-secret project that I shared a while back (hint: It's the purple one)... It would be done if not for a small mistake on my part. But before we go into that little problem, let's see what just happened to jump into my arms yesterday at the craft store:

crafts, crochet, yarn, buttons, WIP, Simply Soft


  Okay, not the buttons; they were the only reason I was there! With the help of The Kid, we found the right toggle buttons for the project. That's all we needed. Then, we went exploring in the yarn section. (The Kid has never been to out-of-town Joann's, so of course I had to show her where it was.)

  It's not like I need more yarn, but I have to find the right one for the project I asked for your opinions on. I've been undecided for awhile, and your perspectives helped me get closer to my conclusion: It has to be a solid color. But what color? What yarn? Many of you noted that the design has a Celtic knot vibe. This helped me decide that the project should be made in a green, blue, or bluish-green, keeping it close to the tones in the multicolored yarn I used.

  But the thing I've been fighting: It was also suggested to use a lighter weight yarn. I do think that wold be a good idea, but it will also reduce the size of the project... Something I already had worked out and I don't feel like re-working it. So, I made the next-best decision: Keep it worsted-weight, but find a softer, more drape-y yarn. Simply Soft to the rescue!

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Pagoda

  But here, I ran into another roadblock. The color Pagoda above seems like a great choice; it's a little bit blue and green. Sorry, it mostly wants to look blue in the pictures. (I know it's not my screen settings, because it looks that way on camera.) I'm quite partial to darker tones, so I was leaning towards picking this one at first... But maybe such a bold design deserves a bright color?


crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Cool Green

  So I picked up this Cool Green, too. Again, I'm getting something wrong with lighting or settings, because that "green" is a lot more like teal in my eyes. Think: Bright peacock. It's bright. Really bright. I think Joann's has some sort of trick lighting that makes you like yarn colors more when they're in the store. It looks gross in my lighting.


crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Soft Green

  And just to be safe, we need to a nice, gentle, soft color into this mix of bold and bright potential choices. Please keep in mind: This heavy-metal loving crocheter likes dark colors. I come from the darkness to live in the darkness and become the darkness. My darkness will eat your darkness to become darker. That said: I'm picking the lighter color.


crafts, crochet, buttons, coat, WIP,

  Now, let's get back to the whole reason I made Dad stop by the craft store: Because the Michaels here doesn't have toggle (or any?) buttons. I had ordered some online, but they're not here yet. I'm ready to finish the project and I'm tired of waiting! Surely they'll be here tomorrow now that I've made another purchase.


  Last night was supposed to finish the project, but it ended in a mistake that I hate. I have to rip out the final part that made the buttonhole loops, just because this garment is for a female. Anybody know why that is?

crochet, WIP, buttons, gender

  I almost want to leave it like it is. I would prefer for clothing to be gender-neutral regarding the side that buttons are on. I find it ridiculous that we've held on to such an antiquated tradition for so long. I get it if you're not comfortable with peeing alongside a man in a gender-neutral bathroom. But does it really matter which way your coat fastens?

  There's many theories on why it's this way: From high-class women being dressed by servants to Napolean not taking a joke. Whatever the reason, I think it would be easier if it just didn't matter what side the buttons are on. But, I fear the person(s) that will notice it. Are you wearing a MAN'S coat? The buttons are on the wrong side! I can hear it now...

So, can you hear that frog? Rip it, rip it, rip it.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, April 7, 2017

As Expected: FAIL!

  Wow, I feel like I'm doing two "fail" posts in a row... Only, this one really is a fail, and that last one was just for tips. πŸ˜€ I shared a sneak peek at this project a few weeks ago, but I think I was complaining more about the weather than sharing the project. (The weather finally warmed up to 90°F before turning chilly again yesterday. Thanks, Florida.) I got my chance to "fmelt" my plarn project. I didn't expect it to go perfectly. I didn't think it would fail this badly, either.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress


  To explain if you missed it: The plan was to make paper plate holders. And ugh, this is SO much work! First, you make the material (cutting up plastic bags). Then, you crochet the project. And finally, you get out the iron and turn it into hardened plastic. That's why I figured I'd use my not-a-mistake design to test the material instead of frogging it and making more work for myself. I thought if this didn't come out well, I could always flatten it out and use it as a trivet. But, no. All I got was a big, fat FAIL.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  Melting through the plastic is something I usually do right at the beginning, when the iron is set too high. This time, I took my time before I destroyed my work. πŸ˜‰ With an old wooden plate holder for a form and parchment paper to keep melted plastic off my iron, I got to work "fmelting". One minute... Two minutes... Five minutes... The plastic still wasn't hardening. I set the temperature up. To make a long story shorter, I ended up cranking the heat all the way up after 20 minutes and still-floppy plastic. What refused to harden up before suddenly melted through.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  But wait! It gets even better... (That's sarcasm there.) Even though part of the project melted through, other parts of it still wouldn't harden up! Especially around the most important part: The curve that's needed for the shape of a plate holder. The middle of the flat circle did fmelt pretty well. When it came to creating the shape I thought I could make just by melting... Nope, it's not gonna happen this time.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  The flat sides of that pentagon-turned-circle started showing badly the more I tried to melt and shape. Parts overlapped the form, and others shrank back from the edge. I saw it happening before that melt-through occurred, and that's why I wasn't worried about ruining it with the high heat. I just wanted to test out the temperature I would need for the following projects.

  It might be a big fail, but it was a learning experience. See - I have this all figured out already. πŸ˜€ I've fmelted plarn thicker than this before. Why won't this harden up? There's nothing wrong with my iron, is there? (Yes, I burned my finger when I checked the iron for a malfunction. I'll never learn.) And why can't I get it to hold it's shape?

  It's either because of the form or the paper. For other fmelted projects, I've used something metal or covered the form in aluminum foil. I jumped into this project with a bare-bones form that might be letting the heat escape. I've also changed part of the method by using parchment paper. I used waxed paper before, but it leaves residue on my iron.

  So now the question is: Do I really want to continue with this project? It needs a lot of changes before it will be successful. What did fmelt proves this material is way too thin for it's purpose. Although hardened, it isn't very strong. The material will have to be thicker and the shape has to change. Plus, the curved shape will have to be made through crochet and not by melting. And if parchment paper is part of the problem, then I'll have to use that waxed paper and be forced to scrub the gunk off my iron again.

crochet, fails, plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, fmelting, hardened plarn, WIP, work in progress

  Now that I've figured out the problem(s), I just have to try again... I'm just not so sure I want to. This is a time-consuming process, and paper plate holders can be bought in sets of eight for $2. I made some extra material ahead of time, but now I know I can't use it for this. Perhaps my time could be better spent turning that material into something a little more successful and practical? Let's not forget the work of cleaning the iron... Okay, all thoughts of future attempts have now been abandoned.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Metal Mishaps

  For those who love the story behind a design: Oh wow, do I have a tale for you! If you've already been to this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, then you might think I whipped up my project the night before... After all, it's just a simple one-round square, right? How hard could it be?

  Right. And that's what I originally thought when I started the project a month before the challenge. The road to this successful design was a bumpy one with lots of twists, and I think I got lost a few times along the way. But now that I've conquered the route, it should be easier for everyone else to pass. All you have to do is follow my directions to get there... But what if you want to blaze your own trail to a new place?

Here's where I'll stop speaking in metaphors and just tell you all the "fun" I had crocheting with metal.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  I'll show you my secret weapon first, although you don't have to have one of these to crochet with metal wire. Once I finally found the right hook size for the material (that's a long story in itself), I knew I had to try one of my antique hooks. Most people may have thrown this bent hook out, but I always knew I'd use it for something! I have a bad habit of keeping my loops low and tight, but the angle of this hook's head forced me to pull them up nice and high like they need to be.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I've always wondered how that hook got that way and who did it, but I suppose I'll never know. Anyway... Are you the same kind of tight-loop crocheter as me? If so, then you'll find crocheting with metal harder to do. No matter how many times I changed hooks, my work kept curling towards me. It took a few tries to realize that it wasn't all because of the hook size. Pulling the first loop of the stitch up higher let it fall back into the work instead of being pulled tight against the base. 

  
  Pulling the loops tight also causes twists and kinks in the wire, and that's part of what caused the curling. It was mostly because of my hook size at first. Wouldn't you think you'd need a small hook for something so thin? Right, but... See that explanation above. The small hook caused the wire to kink up as soon as you "yarn" over with it. No matter how many different designs and stitch counts I worked out, they were all curly messes.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  What a shame. I really liked the look of the two-round designs I created, but they would be too big to use for (my) jewelry if made with a large hook. Don't get me wrong - I think it would be cool to make something big and bold, like 70's style. But let's be honest: When it comes to earrings, anything over an inch just gets stuck in my hair! The goal here was to keep it small, simple, and delicate. And not stuck in my hair.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I began trying to make these motifs with a 1.50 mm steel hook, working my way up to the size 3 you see above. (A US size 3 should be 2.10 mm, but this old hook doesn't match.) By the time I worked out that square, I had figured out the problem with my tension. But why is it still curling? Hmm... Metal is bendy. I should be able to just "block" it out flat, right? Just give it a stretch into place and it will stay... Nope, didn't work. 

  When you think you've figured it all out, this material changes its personality. The wire stays kinked when you work it up on a too-small hook, but you can't bend it into place to block it flat! This is one of those "Arg, are you kidding me" moments. Yes, it stays kinked if sharply bent. But the loose loops required for a flat project turn it into a springy material that bounces back into shape.


  This all leads us to another problem: The material itself. I didn't have much of that silver wire left, so I didn't want to keep practicing with it. There's another roll of "gold" in my supplies that I'm not happy with. It's much too yellow in my eyes. Why not ruin it while trying to get this right? And ruin it is exactly what I did.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  This is not gold! It's just yellow-coated wire. It's not like I thought I was getting a roll of real gold for a few dollars. I just never thought the coating would start coming off every time I ripped my stitches back to try again. (And yes, the "silver" is also plastic-coated wire.) This isn't like crocheting with yarn or even plarn, where you can rip back and try again. Each time you do, it damages the wire more and more. 

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  It's "get it right" or "get more material". By the time I made the square above, I was ready to give up. I was destroying material, my hands, and my confidence. It was so close to being flat! I stretched, and pulled, bent and smashed, and repeated. None of it helped. It just can't be blocked. But give up? NO! Not me! Well, if you can't make a tiny motif with a small hook, then I guess it's time to make shorter stitches to achieve the size with a bigger hook.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

 Ta da! And stubborn, stubborn me did make a bigger motif with those tall, lacy double crochet stitches. I suppose I could have included it as part of my project for the Granny-Spiration Challenge, but at the time it looked so plain without the bead. Reviewing my pictures, I think it might make a cute, simple pendant on its own. Maybe add a bead on an eye pin.  

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  Sure I accomplished the design I wanted, but will I ever wear it? Turned diagonally, the pendant will be over 2" across. That's a bit large for my taste in accessories and it's way too big for earrings. But for somebody else? Maybe you like it. My point is, the material poses it's fair share of limitations in what you can make and how it can be made. A smaller gauge wire would work better on a small hook, but this is already really thin!   


  None of this has been said to discourage you from trying your own metal project. I hope it can steer you in the right direction, closer to where you need to start. It's not the kind of project that you can jump into and rip back if it's not perfect. You can score metal beading wire for really cheap if you catch a sale or use coupons, so it's not like you're destroying a $30 skein of handspun silk if you make a mistake. For me, I just hate wasting any material, ever. Except for that ugly yellow "gold". I threw the aftermath of my practice in the trash without thinking twice.


Happy Crocheting!  

PS- If you missed this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, be sure to stop by to check out my project and see what everyone else is making, too!

https://crochetistheway.blogspot.com/2017/04/delicate-granny-earrings.html


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Delicate Granny Earrings - GrannySpiration Challenge

  It's time for April's Granny-Spiration Challenge! I'll be writing a post soon to explain why my project for this month was more of a challenge than I thought it would be... For now, I'll just share the pattern instructions and then we can get to the linkup and giveaway!

  I've had some jewelry wire sitting in my craft supplies for years now. Since I don't see myself getting back into serious jewelry-making any time soon, why not crochet with it? Oh, but wait... Since it ended up being turned into some pretty earrings, does that mean I'm back into jewelry-making now? πŸ˜‰ What a conundrum. Shall we just get to the pattern?

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, linkup, link party, giveaway

  Each of these delicate wire squares measures only 1" (2.5 cm) across. With the squares turned diagonally and the findings attached, the size of the finished earring is 1.5" (3.8 cm) wide and 2" (5 cm) long.


Skill level:
Intermediate


Materials:
Bead stringing wire
*This should be .012 in/ 0.30 mm wire. The sticker labels fell off the plastic rolls years ago, so I'm sorry if I'm wrong. But I'm pretty sure I'm right, because that's the only size I ever bought... Unless I scored something else on clearance and forgot about it.
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 mm
Smaller hook for weaving in ends (I found it impossible to do on a needle)
Beads (optional) - I used one 8 mm cracked-glass bead for each earring
6 mm jump rings (2 for each earring)
Fish hook earring findings
*You may need additional findings or jewelry-making supplies, like pliers. (I keep it simple and use my fingers to work the jump rings.)


Gauge:
Not important to match size; just important to avoid curling. (See notes)


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

Use any hook size you need to avoid curling. If your stitches lean forward towards you as you work, you need to go up a hook size (or more). You'll see it happen with just the first few stitches made.

The beginning of this pattern was the hardest to work (for me). If you find it too difficult, you could:

  • Begin without the bead and work the stitches into a regular joined ring - Then add the bead with some extra wire or an eye pin. The results won't be exactly the same, but you'll have less frustration.
  • Try starting with the bead on a slipknot. Join the ring in the chain past the bead. Doing it this way will cause the bead to fall into the middle of the ring, but it eliminates the option to turn your square to make it look best.
Try to avoid making kinks in the wire by pulling your loops up nice and high - No pulling them tight against the hook! Leave some slack in your loops to avoid kinks that will cause twisting.


Stitches:
Chain
Single crochet
Slip Stitch


Instructions:

Beginning with the bead:
This is the one place I had to make a kink in the wire. I tried to run the wire through in one strand and then pull the tail back through the bead, but mine kept catching inside the bead hole. (Perhaps you'll have better luck?) I folded the wire in half so I could pull the loop out from the other end of the bead.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, instructions, tutorial


Make sure the working end of the wire comes from the back and over the front of the hook when you begin! Chain 6. Leave a good amount of slack in the loop around the bead before making the first chain. Like - Enough to fit your hook under, because you'll work into it soon.
(Can you see how some of the wire is kinked? It doesn't make pretty stitches, but this was just the beginning chain, so I didn't worry about it.)

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, tutorial,


Joining:
Here's the tricky part... Bring the bead around so that the beginning loop is on top. (It's the wire running over the bead in the photo.) AND make sure the tail of the wire is right there with it, because you're going to work over both strands.

Insert the hook in the beginning loop, catching the tail with it. Make a slip stitch to join into a ring.
*This will create two halves for the beginning ring. The first half is made of the beginning loop and tail, and the second half is the chain-6.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, tutorial


The first and only round:
Chain 1 (does not count as stitch).
(5 single crochet, chain 2) 2x in the first half of the ring (over the tail and beginning loop).

Working into the second half (the chain-6 ring), make (5 single crochet, chain 2) 2x.

Bind off (gently, without tightening the ending stitch). Pull the tail through the beginning single crochet from back to front; and then back through the beginning stitch from the top down.

Weave in the ends around the beginning rings.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017


WOW! You would think such a short pattern would be easy... And it can be, once you're used to crocheting with wire. If you are a beginner with the material, don't get discouraged. It's springy, twisty, and downright frustrating until you get the hang of it. Just remember: NICE. BIG. LOOPS -Lots and lots of slack.


To finish:
Attach a fish hook earring and two jump rings together and add them to a corner chain-2 space.

crochet, free pattern, earrings, wire, metal, beaded, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017

Granny's gone metal! πŸ˜πŸ’€πŸ’Ž
(Happy Crocheting.)

Be sure to check out the creations of everyone participating in the Granny-Spiration Challenge:









And now, on to the GIVEAWAY!
April's giveaway is sponsored by EyeLoveKnots. One winner will receive two skeins of Baby Bee's Sweet Delight Yarn in the color Splash.


crochet, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, giveaway, Baby Bee Sweet Delight Yarn


Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


The top views from the March Challenge:

Lacy Granny Square Cross Square from Creative Crochet Workshop:

Ruffle Crochet Scarf from Anabelia Handmade:

Joining Granny Squares from Loes Hobbies: 

Thanks for sharing your projects!


Link Up:
New Granny-Spiration Projects will be shared from your hosts the first Saturday of each month. Post times will vary. You will be able to link up from 12:00am EST on the first Saturday of the month, through 12:00pm EST on the second Thursday from the start date - specific dates are on top of the Rafflecopter form - giving you almost two weeks to link up and enter the giveaway!

Please share projects that are family friendly, and GRANNY INSPIRED through use of regular granny square or solid granny square, granny stitch pattern or other afghan square in the form of a free pattern, pattern review, or inspiration piece. Not limited to crochet or knit.

Please make sure to link to your post, and not your home page.

*If you don't have a blog, you can still share with us by creating a Free Flickr Account - powered by Yahoo. Add your projects there, and then come back here with the link for the project.

*Link ups cannot be to Etsy listings or Ravelry pages where patterns are sold. You can link to blog posts, Flickr or Facebook pages, Pins, etc that are directed towards it, but can't directly link to it.
To be clearer though, Raverly pages of finished projects are okay to share. Sorry for the inconvenience! That's per InLinkz guidelines. Thanks!





Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Perfect Home

  The Eye of the Emerald Mandala and it's matching coasters didn't stay in my house for very long. I really do love the design, but choosing to use white yarn in a project is always a bad idea for me. White anything is a bad idea around here... It usually ends up coming into contact with Rip's concrete dust and gets transformed into a not-so-lovely shade of grey. And then there's those times when he comes home with truck grease on him, and things just get destroyed.

  When my dad mentioned he liked the colors, I knew the set had found its perfect home. (Dad knows how to wash his hands when he gets dirty, so I know it's in a safe place now.πŸ˜‰) Sometimes I just get ideas I want to create, but maybe they don't really have a purpose yet. It makes me really happy when they find the right person or place  instead of being shoved in a box and forgotten.


Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project


  It makes me even happier when I get pictures of my project being displayed in its perfect home. Some things get forgotten, but there are other projects that have left my hands that forever leave me wondering... What did they do with it? Is it still being used? (Especially when you give someone a wearable, but you never see them wearing it; Am I right?) Some of those things have been sold, so once they leave my hands it's none of my business and I might never see that person again, anyway. But those things that are gifted... It's extra-special to know that they're being used and treated well.


Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project, phalaenopsis


  You know what's even better than that? It's when you get reminded of one of those forgotten projects, too. I was distracted at first, comparing how the green pairs nicely with the decor of the house and checking out the awesome blooms on that phalaenopsis... 



Sidetrack: Dad is a first-time orchid grower, and he got it to bloom the first year. With more than one spike. And like, perfect blooms. 😲


  Back to the subject: Check out what else is on the table. I see another creation of mine! It's those butterfly stitch doilies that will never be properly recreated because of a notebook-eating dog. I briefly considered trying to re-make the pattern again using the pictures I have of them, but there's a reason I've decided not to. 



Eye of the Emerald, gifting, doily, mandala, coasters, crochet, finished project, butterfly doilies


  Sort of like the same conclusion I came to with Mom's Afghan, I no longer think every project needs to be shared with the world. Maybe I'll share pictures of it with you, but you won't always get every pattern I create... Be it for free or at all. Sometimes I decide I've put too much work into something to let it go for nothing, but there's other times I just want a project to remain one-of-a-kind.

  Maybe it's me overthinking things (I usually do), but I sort of felt bullied into always sharing my patterns when I began designing. Not really "bullied"; perhaps more like pushed mentally, by myself. (Can you really bully yourself? Overthinking again.) Whatever the feeling... I'm trying to make a career out of this, and you don't make it by holding back.

  But you don't have to give it all away, either. You can exhaust yourself by never keeping a small piece of something just for you. And (overthinking some more) maybe that thing for "yourself" isn't in your possession; possibly you hardly ever see it and sometimes forget it exists until you see it again... But it's always a nice little "Ooo, I made that!" reminder that somebody enjoys that thing you made. It's even more special when you know that it's a one-of-a-kind thing that nobody else will ever have.


Happy Crocheting!

(And thanks for the pictures, Dad!)

Friday, March 24, 2017

One Down...

  Arg! I seriously need to do something about my internet speed. One of my goals when getting the new camera was to concentrate on making more videos, and I've been sticking to it. But when you combine might-as-well-be-dial-up speeds with the only format my camera records in (.mov), you get the worst uploading time ever. One video down, a bunch more to go...


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I've had many requests for a video to make plarn, and I've finally succeeded in getting them done. To make it easier for crafters to find what they're looking for, I've split these into two separate tutorials: The one available now is for the spiral-cut method. It's a little more detailed and  a longer video, so I thought I'd get that one worked out first. (Psst... You can use this method to create t-shirt yarn, too.)


Now the short video for the loop-method will be a quick job, right?


  Wrong. I hit "upload" at that time of day when my internet company provides me with slower speeds so everyone else can have their share of the web... Something I've never understood. I pay for a connection that's supposed to be a certain speed. Why do I start experiencing "interruptions" because I'm using it more than others? It's mine and I want it all! Seriously, I need someone to explain that one to me.


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I get the .MOV problem, though - It's not a compressed file, so it takes longer to upload. It takes about nine hours for me to convert a 10-minute video into an MP4, which horribly reduces the quality. Then, it takes another five hours to upload the compressed version to YouTube. For now, I'm just fighting with uploading the raw files.

  Making the video is getting easier with each one I do. Can you believe I would actually get nervous and start shaking just because I'm talking to a camera? I'm getting over that and learning how to improve my tutorials. And I'm learning how to edit them better so I can include more information. But the one thing I haven't gained knowledge to is: "How can I improve my YouTube uploading speed without paying for a better connection?"

  Google that phrase and you'll be directed to the program that's supposed to help... The program I downloaded, spent hours learning, and discovered it takes nine hours to convert a file into a format that ruins the quality and still takes hours to upload. *SIGH* Seems like less work to just wait for the .MOV to upload. Anyone have a better idea?


Okay, thanks for listening. I just needed to get that off my mind. Now here, have a video:




Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mess or Masterpiece?

  Today, I need your help making a decision. I started a new project that has left me both eager to continue and doubtful of whether I should. And I know, I'm not supposed to be starting anything else. But you know how that goes!

  In a recent yarn review, I mentioned another yarn from my stash. Once upon a time I started buying this yarn while it was on sale, planning on making a blanket. (This isn't part of the "From the Stash" series, btw; this one is purely my fault.) The sale ended before I scored enough skeins for the project. Mentioning the yarn in that review made me start thinking, and I went to dig it out of the mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  I like to play with yarns that have variegated or multi-colors. I love seeing the different ways the color can play out; trying new ways to get designs from it. Do you ever do that? It doesn't always end in a successful pattern, but it's something quiet for me to do when I'm bored or tired of everything else. Just pull a few yards from the skein, make some stitches, rip it back, try again with different stitches. None of it ever has a purpose other than to amuse me.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  In that review, I highlighted the durability of Impeccable yarn. The pile you see has taken ripping back a lot of times now, and it's no worse for the wear. Perhaps this color would be difficult, but I think this would be a great yarn for beginners to practice with. It rarely splits, rips back smoothly, and it's easy-care for the finished project, too.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  But, let's not get sidetracked any longer... This isn't a yarn review, I'm here for an opinion! This time, my playing around produces something with potential. I made something that I think I like. It's just a little swatch right now, and I would like to create it in full and write a pattern. But it's just one of those things I can't make a decision about. I thought I should bring my problem here for your help.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  I will say that if I do continue with it, then I'll be selling the pattern on Ravelry. It won't be free here. BUT! If you're a Ravelry member and you leave a comment here to help, then I'll gift you the pattern when/if I get it done (it will be a scarf). And remember, that's if I get it done... I just can't make up my mind whether I've created a masterpiece or a mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  It's a pretty interesting design that I hope you'll enjoy working. It starts with the middle first, made as one long "chain" of textured stitches without a true beginning chain. The rest is created in the round as a border. I think it's fun to watch it go from "what is that?" to "ooo, lacy scarf". At first, I looked at my design and loved it. But the more I studied it, I thought it looks a little messy from different angles.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  So the questions are: Does it look like a mess to you? Do I continue with the pattern? I'll possibly be changing the ends to something less-pointy. Maybe I'll leave it like it is. Would it be cool to add some fringe to the ends as-is, or would it look like curtain tassels hanging in a group from the point? Maybe no fringe at all, because the design is pretty bold as it is. I know, I know... Somebody is going to tell me it's my opinion as the designer, and I should create what I want... This is one of those times I just can't decide what I want. I'd love to hear your opinions.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


 The promise I'm making to you may be a little weird... What if you leave a comment telling me you hate it, then I make it anyway? Am I supposed to stick to my word and gift you a pattern you don't like? *Sigh* Yes, it will be a hard promise to fulfill in that case. But if you do want to see this pattern finished, then don't forget to leave a comment on this post with your opinion! Having you all here in one place will make it easy for me to track everyone down when it comes time for your gift. If you don't have a Google profile and want to leave the comment anonymously, you'll need to drop your Ravelry name in the comment.



Happy Crocheting!

PS - Can you believe the hook size I'm using to create this with worsted weight yarn? The stitch clusters get too tight with a smaller hook, so I had to go this big. I was afraid it would cause the stitches to be too loose, but so far it's only caused a fast-working pattern. I may even break out the big plastic hooks and see if I can go one size bigger for a super-speedy project. But that all depends on your opinions!

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

Monday, March 20, 2017

Soft & Shiny Review

  Ever since I picked up a skein of Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny on a whim, I've been waiting for the perfect project to test it out. It looked like a super-catchy yarn to frog, so I didn't want to go playing with it for no reason. The project has finally been put to the works, and after just a few squares I can confidently give you my opinion about working with it.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  To be nice, the first thing I can mention is the feature that caught my eye: It looks so soft and shiny. Especially in this grey color, the yarn has an almost-metallic sheen to it. The result when worked up reflects light to give the solid color some dimension. The name of this yarn is no lie! It is definitely both soft and shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Unfortunately, that's where the good points stop. After my fiasco with Facets by the same brand, I noticed some similarities with this lighter-weight yarn. (I don't usually compare yarns in reviews, but I will be doing it this time.) The spin seems to be a little loose, making it prone to splitting. And the fluffiness of that loose spin gets caught on itself, indeed making ripping back more of a pain than it needs to be. Yup, very similar. What I wonder is - Will it be the same disaster as Facets when it comes to washing?

  Typically, I'll start with whatever hook size might be recommended on the label. For this 100% acrylic worsted weight (4) yarn, a 4 mm hook is called for. After struggling with splitting just through the beginning chain of five, I switched to a larger hook. This made the problem worse and I found some luck with using a smaller 3.75 mm instead.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  I'm a little doubtful about that "worsted" part... It looks like worsted. It feels like worsted from the skein. But once it's on the hook, it works up more like DK (3) weight. I'd call it a light-worsted. That loose spin seems to give the yarn room to squish down and become smaller than it appears. I tested this square pattern with the usual acrylic worsted I use and the same hook size. The motif turned out to be almost an inch bigger than the ones I'm making with Soft & Shiny!

  I don't want to bring the other yarn into the picture because it's in no way similar to what we have here and not really fair to compare (it's one of my two favorites so if you know me, you know it). However, the results proved that this is surely a light-weight worsted weight. The pattern turned out stiff as a board when worked up in that other yarn with this small hook; the open chain spaces were barely visible. Soft & Shiny produced a delicate square that didn't compare to any of my "everyday" worsted weights.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, my friends, let's bring in another yarn... This yarn's competitor needs to be put to the test. I have to be blunt and say there's no doubt this yarn is a pure knock-off of Caron Simply Soft. That's why I bought it. Again, from the skein itself: Soft & Shiny feels softer and looks shinier than Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  And remember - We're talking about from the skein, not when worked up. Both yarns appear to be the same weight. Holding a strand of each at the same time, you couldn't tell the difference other than from softness... Well, you can feel that Simply Soft has a much tighter twist than Soft & Shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, forget the feel; let's get technical. The actual width of Soft & Shiny (grey) is a little thicker than Simply Soft (blue). However, Simply Soft has more wraps per inch (wpi) than Soft & Shiny. When you get down to the nitty gritty science of yarn, these two don't compare one bit! Simply Soft might look like the lighter weight yarn to the eyes, but Soft & Shiny is less dense when it comes to fiber content.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  The loose spin may give the appearance of a thicker yarn, but keep in mind that it's just empty space between the fiber. That empty space compresses under tension, so you don't get the same results as with a tighter-spun yarn. Same hook; same pattern again:

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Working the motif again with Simply Soft produced closer results than my other worsted-weight yarn. Close, but still not the same. I quite fell in love with this combination of colors while comparing Soft & Shiny to its competitor, and had an idea to use them together in a project. Now I know that if I attempt it, I'll have to change hook sizes to get the same gauge from Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Comparing texture once worked up: They look exactly the same (other than gauge). Both have that slight bit of fuzz, but Soft & Shiny wins at being softer. I've had plenty of experience with (machine) washing and drying Simply Soft in the past, never having any problems other than a few loose ends popping out. I'm skeptical that Soft & Shiny will turn out the same. Then again, perhaps that opinion is influenced by it's similarities to Facets.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  As for that project with these colors combined: I found (almost) the same blue available from Soft & Shiny. Even though I do have a desire to be able to wash and wear these yarns together to put them to the ultimate test, I'm not sure I want to fight with scoring the correct gauge out of two different weights. Although my original opinion was to leave this yarn behind me and never buy another skein, I just might have to get some of that blue to finish the pattern.

  And if you ask why I'm so eager to turn my back on Soft & Shiny, I'll tell you the honest truth: Price $$$. Loops & Threads yarns can only be purchased through Michaels stores. Caron Simply Soft is available there and at Walmart (sometimes, ugh), Joann, and from multiple online sources.

  Disregarding the price from other stores, I compared cost just at Michaels. Soft & Shiny is currently $3.99 for 6 oz/ 311 yards. Simply Soft has now been reduced to $2.49 for 6 oz/ 315 yards (smaller skeins in Heathers). Simply Soft is known for splitting as it is, and Soft & Shiny is ten times worse with a gauge that doesn't match any other yarn. Should I ever pay more for a bigger headache that's available in less colors? I think not.

Happy Crocheting!

PS- I do always feel bad when I have to give such a harsh review, but it's the truth. Since this is now two yarns in a row from this company that I'd rather not use again, I would like to steer you in the direction of some of their good yarns:

  • A great replacement for Facets is Charisma. It can't really compare in texture or colors, but you get a great fast-working bulky (5) acrylic that holds up well to washing with a slight amount of fuzz - And no "cotton candy" pull-apart spots. Still a bit prone to splitting, I find it best to work with a smaller hook than recommended. The downfall is that Charisma's 3.5 oz/ 109 yard skeins disappear quickly into a project. But to combat that problem, the price has now been reduced to $2 a ball.  (I currently have a WIP using a bigger hook than recommended - I've found that making a conscious effort to loosen my tension helps with splitting, and you can stretch the yarn a bit father with a larger hook. Win!)

  • Looking for a worsted weight like Soft & Shiny? (But obviously not the same gauge, lol.) Impeccable might not have that fuzzy kind of softness, but it has durability to make up for that. Available in a large assortment of solids and interesting variegated shades (most of which are usually unavailable in my local store), this is a yarn you just can't go wrong with. It works up well without splitting and takes washing like an old-time rug yarn, but lacks the prickly stiffness of something so durable. And on top of all that softness, strength, and broad color palette, now this yarn is also only $2 per 4.5 oz/ 277 yard skein!? (I think I just found the right colors for a long-envisioned project, too.) Okay, see you later! I have to go shopping now.

πŸ˜€