Tuesday, August 15, 2017

From the Stash #2: A Country Loom Review


6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  The story behind how this yarn found its way into my stash is something many of us can relate to. Unlike the yarn from the first of this series, it wasn't bought for work purposes. A beginner at the time, I just wanted to crochet a blanket... A full-sized blanket. I picked colors, mixed brands, and bought more than I needed for a project that would soon be abandoned. Now it's time to resurrect the three remaining balls of Country Loom from the depths of the stash. Why not do a review? I will be comparing it to another yarn for the purpose of the story, but you'll learn why they're nothing alike...

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  Packed in the depths of the stash for way too long, the Country Loom yarn has lost its fluffy texture and become more like a tape yarn. This yarn fell as flat as my hopes for that blanket. 😅 The bumpy, loopy, fluffy texture is what attracted me in the first place, but I found it difficult to work with back when I was at that beginner level. Now with more experience and advanced skills, I have no trouble at all. But, let's jump back into that story before continuing with the review...
 
6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Homespun, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  Put yourself in the yarn-shopping shoes of beginner-me: Wandering the yarn section at Michaels, where Loops & Threads yarn can be found... Looking for an awesomely bold color combination, I fell in love with Country Loom (by Loops & Threads) in the color Merlot. I already had some Homespun (by Lion Brand) in my stash, left over from the attempts at knitting a blanket. (HAHA!!!) Beginner-me didn't bring along a yarn label or a piece of scrap... Beginner-me only had colors in mind... And beginner-me actually thought they were the same yarns at the time of purchase.

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Homespun, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  Fast-forward past the frustrations of gauge not working out after color changes, ripping back, and the eventual discarding of the project which led to the burial of the yarns... Let's get back to modern day, where advanced-skill-me knows to check yarn labels and weights: Although they look quite similar and are both 100% acrylic, these two yarns are nothing alike! Homespun is a bulky-weight (5), and Country Loom is super-bulky (6).

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Homespun, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  Comparing them at first sight, they almost could be mistaken for the same yarn. But, no. Homespun is loosely-spun around a core, while Country Loom is more dense. It's a hard yarn to pick apart... I'm not sure if I see two core threads in there, or if a tighter twist just makes it look that way. Mine has lost some of that bumpy-fluffy texture from being smashed in the stash, but a closer comparison still shows that it is thicker than Homespun:

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Homespun, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

    And if you're asking yourself why I would do a review on an old squished-down yarn, the answer is because I had little faith that this mess could become something after all these years. My poor, flat, acrylic yarn had lost the character that gave it life, and we all know there's no hope for acrylic that looses its shape, right? Right??? Ah, but I was in for a surprise...

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  I debated over whether I should just throw it out or try to work something up. I feared any project made with the deflated yarn would look just as flat and lifeless. I gave the tail a few twists between my hands, trying to fluff it back up a bit...

6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  Well, would you look at that? With just a little fluffing, Country Loom went back to looking like new again! The texture that I loved was back, and now I have the skill level to tackle a project without frustration... Oh, how many times did I split and snag those loops as a beginner? I remember wanting to cry when I realized my stitch count was off from mistaking those bumps as extra stitches...

  And that's what leads us to the conclusion of the review: Country Loom is a yarn that can take a lot of abuse, but it can be abusive towards a beginner's patience. The super-bulky weight works up fast, which makes the length of a 5-oz skein disappear quickly. You can barely finish a scarf with one ball! That's something that will usually steer me towards other brands with more yardage. Although I can't complain about the yarn itself, I do wish it was sold in 8-oz or even jumbo skeins...
 
6, Country Loom, From the Stash, Loops & Threads, review, super bulky, Yarn

  I mean, can't you see the problem here? I sat down to take pictures for the series, and Country Loom ended up on my hook. An hour later, the ball was gone and I had finished the project! What on earth is a crochet junkie supposed to do about that? Make another? Well, I suppose I could, since there's two more skeins that came from the stash... 😉

Happy Crocheting!

PS - If you're interested in an easy one-skein project using Country Loom, the pattern shown above is "in the works". We don't say "coming soon" around here anymore... But, we can hope.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cross Burst Granny - GrannySpiration Challenge

chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth

  For this month's GrannySpiration Challenge, I have a versatile project for you! As soon as I started making a few washcloths with this pattern, I knew I wanted to make something else with this square. The texture of the double crochet cross stitch is so amazing when worked in the round, and a group of these squares together is absolutely stunning. I simply added a long chain in one corner to create a hanging loop for a washcloth, and you could do the same. Or, skip the loop and create a bunch of regular squares to be joined for any project you like:

chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth

  Whether you're looking for a luxurious-feeling washcloth, a dishcloth with extra scrubbing power, or a square to join into a blanket, this pattern is sure to please. A burst of double crochet cross stitches around the center combine with a beginning and end of simple stitches, and it all results in one of those "I can't stop running my hand over this awesome texture" sensations. Lacy and pretty enough to create an heirloom baby blanket, but rough enough (in the yarn I used) to scrub the worst grime off of a construction worker... Believe me, I know because I married one. 😉 I could mention more about "texture", "awesome texture", or "the coolest texture ever", but maybe we should get on with the pattern before I talk too much about texture... Oh, wait... I forgot about reversible texture:

chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth


*After the pattern, be sure to check out what everyone else in the Challenge is creating. You can also share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup - And don't forget to enter the giveaway, too!*


Skill level:
Easy - intermediate


Materials:
Worsted weight (4) yarn
I used Peaches & Creme cotton yarn in the color "Happy Go Lucky". Click here and also here to read why I'm not happy with it.
Size J/10 - 6.00 mm crochet hook
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional - use to mark corners and beginning spaces if needed)


Gauge:
In 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm)
14 double crochet across
6 rows


Notes:
Chain 1 at beginning of rounds does not count as a stitch. (Chain 2 if you find this to be too short.)

Single crochet (used to join) counts as a chain-1 space at the end of rounds.

When following the chart, join rounds with a slip stitch unless otherwise noted in the diagram.


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


Instructions:

Begin with a magic circle/loop.

Round 1:
Chain 1 (does not count as a stitch), make 12 double crochet in the ring. Join with a slip stitch. 
(12 double crochet)

Round 2:
Chain 1, make one double crochet cross stitch in the space between each double crochet. Join with a slip stitch to the first double crochet made of the beginning cross stitch. 
(12 double crochet cross stitches)

Round 3:
Chain 1. 
*1 double crochet cross stitch in the chain-1 space of the next cross stitch; 1 double crochet cross stitch in the space between cross stitches. Join with a slip stitch.
(24 double crochet cross stitches)

Round 4:
Chain 1. Make 1 double crochet cross stitch in the chain space of the next cross stitch (makes beginning of first corner; to be finished at end of round). Chain 1.  
*(Work 1 double crochet cross stitch in the chain space of the next cross stitch) 5x.**
Make 2 double crochet cross stitches in the next.*
Repeat from * to * 3x.
Repeat from * to ** once more.
Make a double crochet cross stitch in the beginning space. Join with a single crochet (counts as chain-1 space) in the first double crochet of the starting double crochet cross stitch.

Round 5:
Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the joining space.
*Chain 1. (Double crochet in the space between next 2 cross stitches, chain 1) 6x.**
(2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the corner space.*
Repeat from * to * 3x.
Repeat from * to ** once more.
Make 2 double crochet in the beginning space. Join with a single crochet in the starting double crochet.

Round 6:
(Note - Pattern is written for a regular square. To create a hanging loop for a dishcloth or washcloth, simply replace the chain-1 of any corner in this round with more chains, then slip stitch in the top of the previous double crochet made. My loops are made with a chain of ten.)

Chain 1. Make 2 double crochet in the single crochet joining space.
*Make 2 double crochet in each of the following 7 spaces.**
(2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet) in the corner space.*
Repeat from * to * 3x.
Repeat from * to ** once more.
Make 2 double crochet in the beginning space. Chain 1, bind off loosely. 

Join with a false stitch by bringing the tail through the starting stitch, then back through the top of the ending stitch. Weave in ends.


chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth

chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth


chart, cotton, crochet, diagram, dishcloth, double crochet cross stitch, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, in the round, linkup, square, washcloth

Happy Crocheting!

And now, on to the Granny-Spiration Challenge for August...

Check out this month's featured project - A scrap ottoman cover from Ghemuletul Incalcit:


http://ghemuletulincalcit.blogspot.ro/2017/06/normalitate.html

*A little help would be great here... Does that actually translate into "The Ghost Squirrel", or has my translator program gone bonkers? Either way, the translator doesn't have to work for me to know I love this project!

See what everyone in the Challenge is making:






Share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup:
This month's linkup begins at 12 a.m. EST on August 5th and runs until 12 a.m on August 18th.

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 midnight 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!

Features may be chosen at the discretion of each host. By linking up, you give us permission to feature your item.







And don't forget to enter the giveaway:
This month's giveaway is sponsored by EyeLoveKnots. One winner will receive a copy of Happily Hooked Magazine, issue #40 featuring light and lacy designs, including the pattern for Alexandra's Granny Square Tank Top.

Granny Square Top, Happily Hooked Magazine issue #40, EyeLoveKnots, giveaway, win





How to Sew a Toggle Button

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest

  Wait... WHAT??? Me, the sewing hater, is going to teach you something about it? Yup, that's right! Unfortunately, crocheting sometimes involves sewing, which is something I absolutely despise having to do. But, hey... We can hate it, or we can just get over it and do it so we have a finished project already; right? I find toggle buttons to be one of the easiest closures to use for garments, and I'd like to show you how I (the sewing hater) make it even easier.

  You'll need a yarn or sewing needle (one that fits through your button holes), a small length of yarn or thread (plus scissors to cut it), and your crochet project. But most importantly, toggle buttons are required... Which leads to a side note: WHOOP! The local Michaels heard my plea, and now has a larger assortment of buttons available. YAY - No more out-of-town trips just to get buttons!

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  I'm also using stitch markers to mark where I will attach the button and closing loop, but we won't need our crochet projects just yet... You're going to start with the yarn (or thread) looped over, so you need to cut double the length you actually need to sew the button. I've started with 16" (40 cm), which will give me a little less than 8" (20 cm) to work with once doubled:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  The beginning stitch is one of the things I hate the most about sewing. That's why we're going to do this the easy way... Bring the two loose ends of the thread through the eye of the needle. You'll have a loop on one side, and the tails on the other:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  You can move the needle closer to the tails to give yourself more thread for sewing, as shown below. Bring the needle through the back side of one of the button's holes, leaving the looped thread protruding from the back of the button:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  Bring the needle through the front side of the other hole, to the back again. I like to leave a little slack so I don't accidentally pull the thread back out of the button until it's secured:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest

  To secure the thread, bring the needle through the loop at the back of the button:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  With the thread secured to the button, there's no fighting with trying to keep the button in the right place as you attach it to your project! You can tighten up the stitch at this point, but I still leave it a little loose for the following step...

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest

  To give me a bit more confidence that the button won't fall off, I run the yarn through the button's holes one more time in the same direction. (You can skip that if you have more faith in your work - or its wearer - but I like to have more than one length of yarn through it.) Now with the thread at the back of the needle again, bring it under the yarn that runs through the opposite hole:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  There, that looks about right! (In a few steps, you'll see how I run the yarn through one more time for even more security.) Now, to grab your crochet project to attach the button...

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  I have the extra trouble of trying to attach this button to lace - Oh! Why have I taken this on? Anyway, it's no big deal, really...

  For a solid-stitch fabric, you can sew your yarn around the stitches to the back of your work. For this lacy design, I'm working through the middle of the single crochet stitch:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  Bring the yarn back around to the front, then run under the loops at the back of the button once again:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  I want to have a little space between the fabric and the toggle, but not too much! Here's where you can tighten your stitches to place the button where you want it:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  Now for the super-cheating-extra-security part! I separate the tails, leaving just one on the needle:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  Run one tail through a button hole from back to front, then through the other hole to the back again. Drop the tail from the needle and repeat with the next...

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  And then, tie the tails together in a knot.(?) It's against my crocheting morals to tie a knot in my yarn, but I really like the extra security with this lacy design. Tied tight at the back of the button, the knot blends in well:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  It's now safe to weave the tails into the project. Again because of the lace, I'm taking an extra-security step... All tails are being woven into the yarn itself, Russian-join style:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest


  If you've seen my previous tutorial for this stitch, then you know I was using a super-big hook to work up super-fine yarn... This isn't the case for the loop I created for the closure - That would never work! I switched to a smaller size 0/3.75 mm steel hook, and made a chain of ten to fit around the toggle:

crochet, sewing, toggle, button, how to, tutorial, attach a button, lace, vest

  Ta da! I did it! I sewed something and actually finished it! Now, I just hope this tutorial can also make it easier for you. I may be an advanced crocheter, but I'm an inexperienced sewer. I fear my stitches looking sloppy; my back-stitches not holding; my buttons falling off. I took the experience I gained in learning how to make a shawl toggle to make sewing on a button less of a headache. It made the task seem effortless compared to the usual way I would do it. I think - just maybe - I might look forward to using this method for more garments in the future.

Happy Crocheting!
...And effortless sewing!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Flip that Flopped

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  I don't like to be the first person to try something new unless it's an idea of my own. So I've sat back for a while, watching other crocheters recycle or up-cycle their sandals into amazing crocheted shoes or slippers. I've read about how "easy" it is to recycle a broken pair of flip-flops... How "simple" it is to create a comfy pair of shoes... How "fast" you can turn those worn-out sandals into some stylish flats... And this isn't a tutorial claiming any of the same. This is the story of why I won't be continuing the project.


crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Instead of using a nice pair of sandals for the first try, the project started with an old gunky pair of flip flops that are near (?) the end of their life. Knowing I wouldn't be able to use a tiny hook to work through the foam material, I decided to sew through it in one shot, then work with a bigger hook through the sewn-on loops.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  We can use the time-stamps on the photos to track how long this takes... Start time at the photo above is 3:42. Prior to that, it had only taken seconds to cut the straps from the soles. It might have taken about twenty minutes to sew that far around the shoe, but it felt more like an hour.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Time stamp: 3:51. It took me almost ten minutes to sew around the inside arch of the shoe. And it felt like another hour of untangling the yarn that bunched up around the sole as I pulled it through.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Okay, so the time says 3:56. (It still felt like an hour of agonizing torture while I untangled the knot.) Needle back in hand, my hopes were raised as I reached the end of the sewing...

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  4:13 and my energy levels once again soared as I picked up the hook to start stitching. I was hoping to use a bigger hook to avoid stressing my hands, but found I could only fit a size F (3.75 mm) hook under the loops I had sewn. Hmm... Well, I could tough it out for this little tiny project, right?

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  Yeah, right... 9:21, after taking a break, of course... I've only made it once around the shoe. Using the smaller hook was frustrating enough, and the sole kept flopping around in the way as I stitched. I was getting bored; my hands were becoming stiff. But still, I tried to stick with it. I was even working over the tail as I went to save myself work in the end:

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  And knowing that this was just one practice project on a junk pair of shoes, the pattern-writing junkie in me still had to take notes. It wasn't a bad idea anyway, considering I'd still have to work the next shoe...

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  I worked even for the first round, and started making some decreases around the arch in the next round. Even though I wasn't planning on publishing a pattern for the shoes, I still wanted to keep track of where the decreases were to make the second shoe match. After those two rounds, it looked like a good time to start decreasing around the toe.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  10:46... To fight the boredom I was already experiencing, I had switched colors after two rounds. I was thinking it would be cute to finish the rest of the shoe all in black, then make a pink bow to attach to the toe. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to make a plain pair of flats, or something decorative with some style. My hands were cramping, and I had no strength left. I put the project up for the rest of the night, then asked The Kid for her opinion the next day.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers, swallow-tailed kite, birds, Florida

  2:27.. The next day resulted in no crocheting. Too sore to continue working on the shoes, I spent the day doing housework and hanging out with The Kid (when she wasn't hiding in her room). We ended up outside and I heard an awful squawking going on in the backyard... A look revealed three swallow-tail kites causing the ruckus in my trees that overlook the neighbor's chicken coop. (Yikes!) I grabbed the camera only to discover I had a dirty, hazed-up lens, and missed the opportunity at some awesome shots of the birds.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers, sunset, Florida

  6:52 and a clean lens... I think the time on my camera is off, because it's closer to 8 p.m. Another beautiful Florida sunset right in my backyard, and not one stitch made all day. As far as that opinion from The Kid went, she didn't really give me much of an answer other than "I think those are the kind of shoes you only wear around the house". Well, fine... If she doesn't like them, then I can always use them for trips out to the shed.

crochet, fail, flip flops, sandals, upcycle, recycle, shoes, slippers

  ...Days later... This is as far as I've gotten on the first shoe. My hands hurt more with each round, and the shoes... No, just one shoe... It looks uglier to me every time I look at it. I hate pink. I hate bows. Heck, I hate shoes! (Unless they're boots...) I hate how this stupid shoe keeps flopping in the way as I work. Most of all, I hate how my hands hurt. Maybe this is a quick and easy project for other crocheters, but not for one who's hands are affected by rheumatoid arthritis (or any other disability). I'm hanging up the hook on this one and frogging the yarn I've worked up. I can create other amazing, beautiful patterns, and I think this blog proves it. But this project? This is just a flip that ended in a major flop.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Found: Crochet

crochet, mystery item, cover, pouch, found, construction site, Rip van Winkle

  A mystery item! What could it be? I don't know, because this hand-made item wasn't made by me... It was found somewhere at a construction site, and Rip van Winkle took a picture to show me that night. But what is it? I'm not sure... Although the thoughts from the guys were truly impure. 


  My guess is that this crocheted item must be either an eyeglass case, or a cover for something like a shovel handle... Rip was on a job-site and found it in the sand. I find it a bit sad that the guys had to joke about it being a "warmer" for a body part (*SIGH* C'mon guys, grow up...), therefore nobody picked it up to return it to the owner. 

  It's sewn flat on one end to close, and open on the other. A bit too long to be a cell phone holder, but perhaps too narrow to be an eyeglass case as I first thought. It looks to be made in an acrylic yarn, though it's hard to tell with it covered with sand in a cell phone picture. 

crochet, mystery item, cover, pouch, found, construction site, Rip van Winkle

  The things I wonder more than what it is: Who made it? Is the owner missing it or was it discarded? And where do I get that yarn? Also: Since when does Rip van Winkle know enough about crochet to spot an item like this? Oh, how I wish he had picked it up so it could be returned...

Happy Crocheting!