Thursday, February 20, 2020

Projects in Progress!

I've managed a little more crochet time this week, and have finished two more pot holders!

You can't really tell on the brown one in this picture, but I think I need to tear some stitches out of it. It got a little doubled over on the back and it does not lay flat. Do you like the green and blue one? I would have liked it better if one skein of yarn would have been enough. You can tell where I had to start a new one. 

This is the next pot holder I'm working on. I hope I have enough yarn to finish this! I might have to rip out some practice projects and tie some strands together in order to finish this one. I'd say this is about half way done, in case you were wondering what they looked like in the middle of the process.

I have a couple of new things to try once I finish a few more potholders. My friend who attended the Fiber Space workshop with me gave me this book: 

I'm not even sure what a Granny Square IS, but it comes up a lot in crochet-talk, so I'm excited to take a look at this book. I'd love to be able to do something like the yellow and purple project on the cover!

I am also getting serious about my scrubbies soon. I bought some yarn that is specifically FOR making scrubbies, and it's a little bigger, so I think that will help me see what I am doing. 

I hope to put those two together in one scrubbie, but first I have to master that magic circle, which has given me LOTS of trouble. I think this will turn out cute, though. 

I have some long car rides ahead of me this weekend, so I hope to finish my pot holder, or maybe finish two! 

How are your projects coming along?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Fiber Space Recap and Picture OVERLOAD

Let's discuss Fiber Space! 

Fiber Space was the retreat I attended this past weekend to work on my crochet skills. It is held every year in January and February at Heartland Farm. Crocheters, knitters, spinners and weavers all come together and retreat to work on their craft. There are beginners as well as some very talented people who have been crocheting, knitting, spinning or weaving for quite some time. Here we are going over the schedule for the retreat.

Once we got all of the introductions and housekeeping items taken care of, we went off to separate areas of the strawbale building to work. Sr. Imelda had a pattern for handwarmers (which, by the way, sell in the gift shop for $30), and it looked like something I could accomplish. This pattern utilizes a half double crochet, and that is a stitch I wanted to work on, so I decided to make these.

One of the issues I was having with the half-double crochet was getting a wedge-shaped product (which I wrote about here). I knew this had something to do with the way I was finishing my rows, but I wasn't sure what. I was able to get this figured out at this retreat. (Answer: chain two at each end.) Here is my FIRST handwarmer!

This was a little big, and I ended up ripping two rows out of it later. I could acutally probably rip out one more. But, as you can see, my edges are pretty straight and NOT in a wedge, so I am fairly pleased with these. 

I finished my other one at home, and there are some problems, as you can see. One is longer than the other, one is looser than the other, and even though these are made out of the same yarn skein, they don't look like they even match due to the variegation of the yarn! But! They're mine and I made them and I love them I guess. I still might take a row out of the one that's a little too big yet. These were very simple and something I could make easily for a gift.

I also worked on my double crochet and made this: 

It's just a dishrag, I guess. It's cotton yarn, so it should be fine for that. I learned that double crochet is not great for pot holders because it's a looser stitch and too "holey" for grabbing something hot. 

One thing I really wanted to master was a circle. It didn't go very well. My circles just end up looking like big knotted blobs. I worked on it some at home, after the retreat, using a video tutorial for a magic circle. 

I definitely need some more practice on this! I don't think it's supposed to come up into a bowl like that. It should lay flat. But I want to master this because I want to be able to make hats and scrubbies. I will need to buy some yarn that is suitable to scrubbies. 

Even though this retreat ate up a large bit of my weekend (and kept me from attending one of my kids' sporting events), I'm REALLY glad I went. I learned a lot, and crocheting is very relaxing to me, even the stuff that's hard that I haven't mastered yet. I met some very nice people, too. I realize not everyone has an opportunity like this for his/her given project, but if you do ever have a chance to take a class or get some dedicated time to work on your project with others doing the same, DO IT! You won't regret it. Here are some more pictures of our weekend.

The start of my handwarmer.                          Patty, across the table from me, has never crocheted.                                                                              She came with her daughter in law, who crochets a lot.

    My friend, Clarissa, attended this retreat       The silo is my favorite spot on the farm.
    with me.                                                          If it had been nicer out, I would have crocheted in                                                                                    there!

Sr. Imelda was in charge of helping the crocheters.
I don't think there's anything she CAN'T teach you to do!

One last thing: you might remember that I was waffling between learning to crochet or knit when we first started this process. One of the expert crocheters at the retreat asked me if I knew how to knit, because apparently I hold my crochet hook more like you would a knitting needle. Sr. Imelda suggested a few times, "why don't you try it like this?" but I just couldn't do it! I taught myself my own hook hold and it works for me, but it was definitely weird to everyone else! 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Progress, New Yarn, AND Fiber Space Starts Tonight!

I haven't worked as much as I would have liked to this week on my single crochet projects, but I did get to the Hobby Lobby this week for some more yarn!

I had to get more of the brown because I ran out of that mid-pot holder and couldn't finish without it (hence not getting much done this week). It was about 20 degrees out when I bought these, but I was still feeling in springtime mood, so I went with the green, and I think those would make nice St. Patrick's Day projects. 

But I almost have my third pot holder finished: 

I just need to stitch up the back of that and then this one will be finished. You can probably tell where I ran out of yarn toward the center of the back. 

The big news is that Fiber Space starts tonight! My husband and kids keep asking me where I'm going again tonight and tomorrow and I really don't want to answer this question because I know they will make fun of me (and may not be excited that I am missing a swim meet to go), but I am pretty excited. My goals for this weekend are to learn to do the other crochet stitches: double, half double, and maybe treble. I just googled and saw that there are 20 "basic" crochet stitches! I could work on this for the rest of my life and not learn them all!

What are your weekend goals for your project?

Friday, January 31, 2020

I'll Keep This Short...

...but here's my second hot pad!

I kind of want to keep this one since it matches my countertops so well!

There's plenty more of this yarn, though, so let me know if you like these colors! I can (and will) make more!

Edited to add: There is NOT plenty more of this yarn, sadly. I started on my second one of these with this yarn and got about three-fourths of the way done and ran out! I will have to pick some more up next time I am near Hobby Lobby!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

My Second "First" Project!

I'm actually very excited to report that I have completed a project (like a real one)! Here it is:

My daughter said I did such a good job stitching up the back that she couldn't tell which side was the front and which side was the back. Can you?


(Left is the front; right is the back.)

This only took me about three days. I got to work on it a lot during a very long swimming meet on Saturday.

I found this pattern here, and I like it because it only incorporates single crochet. That gives me a good opportunity to try to perfect this method, as I plan to make several of these.

In fact, I already started on my next one! This yarn goes quite well with my countertops, don't you think?

Saturday also provided a good opportunity to get to Hobby Lobby and purchase some more yarn. This hot pad I am working on now would actually also be perfect as a blanket with my new furniture! I don't know if I will ever graduate to making blankets, but I need to keep this yarn label in case I do.

I do understand why beginners are encouraged to start with a lighter-colored yarn, though. This has some light areas in it, but they grays and browns can be hard to see. I had to back up a few times and make corrections.

Some things that have changed in the process of working on these the last few days: 1. My hands have relaxed a lot. When I first started, I was very tense, and my hands would cramp up pretty quickly. I had to take a lot of breaks. I had a death grip on my crochet hook. I noticed last night, that I was able to work for quite a while before I needed to take a break. 2. I have sped up quite a bit as well. 3. My sensitivity to the yarn hasn't been so bad the last few days. My eyes are watering and itching a lot less, so maybe I am not allergic after all, or maybe I'm adjusting. Good news either way.

We had a late start today, but I was kind of hoping for a snow day so I could stay home and crochet more! It's getting to be a bit of an obsession!

How is your project going?

Friday, January 24, 2020

My First "Project"! (It's nothing to write home about...)

...but I'm still going to write about it!

Here it is:

What is it? I think it's a hotpad. This is a single stitch "pattern" (I guess that's the word?) I love this yarn, though! I love a good seasonal hotpad, and my Valentine's Day collection is a little thin, so this will help me boost that up a bit. 

I know this isn't good. It's a bit misshapen and my stitches aren't consistent, but I do think I got better as I went along. 

Now, if you recall, my end goal was to create seven of these to gift to my students. I think I could go ahead and do that now (though the student who gets the one I create LAST probably gets the one that is BEST), but I'm going to try to master some other stitches before I start creating their hotpads/dishrags. Also,  I would be kind of embarrassed to give that first one away to anyone. 

I also saw this over the weekend and I really liked the sentiment:

I hope my students who have taken up a new hobby can really embrace this. I love that it's possible to be a complete failure at whatever it is we try to learn, but not fail this overall project. Personally, I think as soon as a hobby turns into a moneymaker, it's no longer FUN and becomes WORK. I have a friend who is a photographer and does a lot of sports photography. He just gives the pictures he takes away for FREE. I always used to tell him he should sell them! He would say, "No--then it becomes work!" I do know of a venue that would accept my crochet goods to sell as a fundraiser (no money for me), and if I ever DID get good enough to participate in that, I think I would, but this is still a good hobby even if I can't ever advance past mediocre dish rags. 

Of course, if you are great at something and can monetize it and doing so doesn't kill your joy, do you! There's nothing wrong with being compensated for your time and talent. What do you think? Do you agree?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Practice Makes...Well, Not Perfect!

Crocheters of the world, what is this:

I did it several days ago, so now I don't remember if it was single stitch or double half stitch. I've been working on both. I find that I like single stitch much better!

I'm not sure what happened here, though!

I'm pretty sure that in this sample below, I started in single stitch and then somewhere in the middle decided I would practice my half double stitch. I'm still using the tutorial from GoodKnit Kisses.

One of the things the tutorial cautioned about with the half double was making sure you added an extra stitch on the end so that you didn't end up with a wedge-shaped project. I thought I was following that directive, but... you can see, I have a wedge-shaped project. So I abandoned that and went back to working on my single stitch. My daughter keeps asking me "what is it?" I think it's a dishrag or a potholder. Or as one of my students said, "It can be both!" One thing I need to find out about: can ordinary yarn even be used as a dishrag? That doesn't seem like it would work. What about as a hot pad? I feel like I've burnt my hands on a few hot pads that really didn't guard against the heat.

And there have been a couple of interesting developments: I think I might be allergic to yarn! My eyes get so itchy while I work, BUT I did just get new contacts, so I'm hoping it's just that. Either way, I'm not going to let it stop me! I just take out the contacts and wear my glasses when I work on this, but it's definitely an unforeseen (pun intended) obstacle. Honestly, just being horrible at this is enough of an obstacle. Not being able to see what I'm doing doesn't help!

Another interesting development is that Fiber Space happens to be this month and next month and I signed up to go next month. Fiber Space is an event that happens twice a year, usually in January and February, at a farm near where I live, so this is very convenient. It's a retreat where you can basically go work on either crochet, knitting, spinning or a loom, and you can get some expert help from one of the sisters there. I serve on the advisory council for the farm, so I'm happy to support it in any way I can, and it's just a double win that I can support my crocheting endeavor at the same time!  I managed to talk a friend into going with me, and I'm just so excited to have some dedicated time (about nine hours) to work on my new hobby away from the distractions of my life! I think it will be very good for both my friend and me.