Friday, January 5, 2018

SlipperMania!

(A quick side note about the faux-fur hooded cowl that inspired this project - The post for how to finish the hood is on hold until I get the fitting checked, which requires a baby. Of course I don't have one of those things and it's proving difficult to borrow the one that the cowl was made for...)

  And now on to my latest trend: Slippers! While working on my last project, the thought hit me that the shaping of a hood could also be used to create the heel of a sock. Although I was sort of right, I'm not happy with the look of the results. I'd like to show you how I made them anyway, because looks aren't always everything and these sure are some comfy-fitting slippers! Follow along and you'll soon understand why I'm calling this post "SlipperMania"... 

Charisma, crochet, easy, how to, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn

  I made that first pair of slippers with bulky-weight Charisma yarn, thinking they would be perfectly warm and toasty for the upcoming cold snap. There's three things I didn't like about them:
1) Bulky weight slippers might be too warm. My feet are perpetual blocks of ice, but five minutes in these slippers had them melting into... Well... Sweaty feet. Yuck.
2) The design was made in a slightly different way than what you'll see below. There was a gap left over which needed to be closed with some decreases, and I wasn't excited about the work it would take to write that pattern in multiple sizes.
3) It took two skeins of Charisma to create one pair of slippers.

And that's when I decided to grab some worsted weight to try again with an easier design...


crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn

  Nope, not pretty. But they are so comfortable! They're sort of like that one pair of pajama pants that you love to wear until unexpected company shows up while you're in them, and the next thing you know Aunt Cindy reaches out to pat your arm and asks if you've been drinking too much and are you feeling okay?...

  Well, maybe you'll have a little more dignity in these slippers than those eyebrow-raising pants. Heck, wear them together with the pj's and be proud of the mess you are. What matters is being comfortable, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Okay then. Let's learn how they're made:

Charisma, crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Begin by crocheting a circle that will reach from the middle of the heel to your ankle bone. Once you reach that size, you'll need to put two flat sides on the circle.

-Divide the number of stitches in half, then divide that number in half again. My circle was 48 stitches around, so:
48 / 2 = 24 ; 24 / 2 = 12. This will be the number of stitches for each flat side.
-Work even across the first side. In the last stitch (12th for mine), increase to create a corner. Because of the size of my circle, I needed to make 3 stitches to stop the corner from pulling.
-Make another increase in the first stitch of the next side, then work even until you've reached your number of stitches.


crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Now, turn and work in rows across just one flat side...


crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Keep working in rows until the length of the piece reaches from the heel to the base of your toes.


crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Begin decreasing. This pattern was worked in half double crochet stitches, so I used a dc2tog stitch for my decreases... In hindsight, I wish I would have used a sc2tog instead. The dc2tog left a bigger gap than I like. Although it's not so bad that (adult) toes would slip out, I just think the sc2tog would have blended into the pattern better.

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 And now, here's the biggest mistake I made with this pair... You'll make two pieces for each slipper, then sew them together. I wanted to make one continuous seam, but I hastily bound off when I "finished" the pieces. Here's what I should have done to make that work:

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  I should have worked back across and down the side, stopping at the "corner" of that first flat side.

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
THEN bind off. You'll be able to use the tail to sew from the ankle hole, around the toe, down the base of the foot, then up the back of the heel; all using the same thread. In the end I just sewed them together as far as I could with the tail, then used another piece of yarn to sew up the toe and top of the foot:

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Mistakes aside, it worked and I liked the result... At first. The rounded heel fits perfectly; just the shape I was looking for. And that odd little jog where "round" meets "rows"? It creates some compression around the arch and hugs a foot in all the right ways. Although odd-looking off the hook, the whole slipper stretches for a snug fit and doesn't look so weird once you have them on. Just go back and see that first picture for an example. Not bad at all, right?

But once you take them off?...

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 Oh, no. Put a pair of those in Aunt Cindy's stocking, and I bet she won't be asking any more questions about how you're feeling. She'll just be at the head of your "intervention" next weekend.

  And that was the end of SlipperMania that day... But wait, there's more: The next day I sat staring at my stash and noticed I have a lot of Red Heart Super Saver in orange. I don't like orange and I don't know why I have so much of it in my stash. Why not use it for practice yarn so it doesn't hurt as bad if I end up throwing some away?

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
 While I'm at it, why not abandon that idea of two-piece slippers and make some that don't have weird shapes or seams that require more attention than I'm capable of?

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  Yup, using that orange yarn was a great idea. These fit even better than those space socks I started with, and I think they use less yarn, too. You might notice that mine are a little dirty now because I've been wearing them out to the garage, not caring what the concrete might do to them because they're orange. I don't like orange, but I think I love these slippers anyway.

crochet, easy, how to, Red Heart Super Saver, SlipperMania, slippers, Socks, tutorial, Yarn
  As for that one skein of Red Heart Super Saver that I was hoping to kill with a pair of slippers? Well, it also was used to make a pair of children's size, then toddler size, and finally a little tiny pair in a size that I still have to measure to label. And there's still enough yarn to make another adult pair. I realized that SlipperMania was a little out of hand, so I decided to take a break and show you my trials and errors before working on the pattern.

  Then there was a delay in getting to this post because I just happened to try a different yarn (Hipster) and a few adjustments to make a really nice pair of stretchy socks. They were so nice that Rip van Winkle spotted them and said "ooo". Then he felt them and said "ohhhh", and I haven't seen them since... It must mean they're good socks if a mud-covered, truck-driving man decided he wanted them, right? (Just keep letting him think it was his idea; never mind that I was already making them in his size.) Perhaps they'll eventually turn up in the laundry so I can get some pictures to share in the next post. And hopefully my SlipperMania has calmed down by then so I can actually get to writing that pattern.

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Surface Crochet Faux Fur

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

  Let's be honest: Faux fur yarn can be difficult to work with. And now the Bernat Boa in my stash is even more frustrating because it's been discontinued! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ In the past, I combined it with a strand of worsted in the Furry Fingerless Gloves pattern to add some bulk and make the stitches easier to find... That was helpful but still may not be an easy pattern for a beginner. Now I've found another great way to use it, and it's as simple as surface crochet.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


  My original surface crochet tutorial will show you a bunch of ways to create designs with different stitches, but we don't need all that info for this simple faux fur. In this new tutorial we'll only be using an easy slip stitch. Here's some quick basics to know:


  • You'll need something crocheted or knitted to work your surface crochet over.


  • I'm using the same size hook for the original piece and for the surface crochet. If you find your work puckering or bulging, you may need to change hook sizes to match gauge.


baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn



  • This method will work with any yarn you like... It doesn't have to be faux fur.


  • Surface crochet must start from the back of the work, with the yarn coming from underneath. You can start anywhere you like depending on the design you're creating, but I'll be starting in a corner space and working in every stitch across to cover the entire piece in faux fur.

Okay, now let's get to work...

Beginning:

1. Insert the hook from front to back. Yarn over so the working yarn is over the front of your hook:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


2. Bring up a loop:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

(You may start with a slip knot if you like, but I chose to start with just a loop and stitch over the tail to secure.)

The stitch:

3. The yarn needs to be anchored around the post of a stitch, or you'll just be making chains upwards... Insert your hook in the next stitch:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


4. Yarn over, then pull the working yarn through the loop on the hook:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


Just repeat across: Insert hook in the next stitch, yarn over, pull through loop on hook. Now, what to do when you reach the end of a row?

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


Rotate (do not flip) your work around so you can work back in the other direction:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

Tips:

I'm moving up to the next row each time I reach the edge. For thicker fur, you could work back into the same row after you turn or you can flip your work and make slip stitches on both sides. See here how the back side isn't completely covered:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

If you do flip it for a double-sided design: You'll need to work to the outside of your edge stitch, keeping the working yarn underneath when you turn the piece over.

I've left the outer stitches of these pieces uncovered because I still have to sew them together:

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn


This is a much easier way to create faux fur without having to fight to find your stitches! But to be perfectly honest: Once you've added a few rows, the fuzz can start overlapping the space you need to work into. (Still, so much less frustrating!) I just smooth the fur away with my thumb before making a stitch to make sure I'm working into the correct space.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

  Well, there you have the stitch and some extra tips on how to make faux fur with surface crochet. Since Bernat Boa yarn has been discontinued, you'll be getting this design for free as another how-to tutorial that will teach you how to measure to create the pattern in any size you like... Faux fur optional.

baby, Bernat Boa, crochet, eyelash, furry, Furry Fingerless Gloves, hood, how to, pattern, surface crochet, tutorial, Yarn

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Irma Hat and Holiday Specials

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  There's a new pattern in my Ravelry store! I'm not here to beg you to buy it. I'm just here to help you save some money in case you do buy it. Keep reading for a super deal I found on the yarn... You just might get a discount on this pattern's purchase price, and more! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  The full price for The Irma Hat crochet pattern is only $1.50 (USD). Using bulky yarn and a large hook, it's easy to finish a hat in a day (I'm able to finish one in about an hour if I don't take a break). The pattern includes a measurement chart for all sizes or any yarn, plus a photo tutorial to help you get started. It's made from the bottom up with my favorite "chain-less" beginning for plenty of stretch.

  With the holidays approaching, I think it's a great design for some quick gifts! Even using worsted-weight yarn, I was able to complete a hat in less than a day. And that means if you don't want to go buy more yarn... Wait... We always want to go buy more yarn, right??? But seriously, you can use the size chart provided in the pattern to adjust for anything you might happen to have in your stash. Here's one I made from scraps of worsted:

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  And now, for those deals! So, in case you really do want to buy more yarn, because you know you do... I want to give you a head's up about a crazy deal on the Loops & Threads Charisma yarn called for in the pattern: 

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Ooo, goody, goody! My dad handed me the Michaels Black Friday advertisement that was in the paper, and this "Epic Bag" immediately caught my eye. You get 20 color-coordinated skeins of Charisma for... Are you ready? $40!!! That's only $2 a piece for a yarn that currently sells for $4.49.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  So I... The one who doesn't care for the holidays and absolutely hates Black Friday shopping... I was one of the ones walking through the door as Michaels opened on Thanksgiving day for early Black Friday deals. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I got my Epic Bag, and I survived the not-so-bad Holiday Madness. Ready to open it with me?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Wait, I'm sorry... Ready to open the reusable bag that the yarn comes in? You know, the bag that would be perfect for storing the afghan made from the yarn and one of the two patterns provided?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Well, there's duplicate colors underneath, so I guess there's not much of a point in digging through the bag... But hold on - Maybe there is! What is that tucked in there?

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Oh, that's just something else that's included - I failed to get farther than "20 skeins for $40" on the label... So cool! There's even a nice-looking wooden hook in this big bag of beautiful:

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Now, just to stress the point: This isn't a review; I haven't used the hook yet. It feels smooth and light, yet strong. It's totally round, which I'm starting to prefer when my joints are swollen. For those who prefer a hook with a flat thumb rest, perhaps it might not be the ideal addition to your collection.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex, Charisma Epic Bag

  Although I'm eager to try that hook out with the provided pattern, these skeins weren't bought for making an afghan. I'll be making even more Irma Hats to sell locally and online. Any profits I can make from the sale of the pattern or the hats will be used to help Rip and I find a new home after Hurricane Irma took ours... And since your purchase will be helping me out, I want to help you save money on the yarn, too.

  If you can't make it to a Michaels store for the deal on the Epic Bag, you can often find Charisma yarn on sale in-store or online for less than $3 a skein. When I purchased the original 5 skeins to work on this project, it was on sale for $2. If you can't wait to find it on sale, Michaels also always has coupons available for up to 50% off an item. One skein of Charisma yarn is all that's needed to complete an adult large hat.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

 To keep spreading that holiday-discount love, I'm also offering 25% off all patterns in my Ravelry store for the rest of the year! Just use the code "holiday" at checkout. But wait, there's more!!! (See, late night infomercials have taught me something. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐Ÿ˜)

crochet, pattern, for sale, Ravelry, holiday, holly, table runner 




  As my thanks to you for your purchase, you can get the Irma Hat pattern for just $1 until December 24th, 2017. Use code "Irma" at checkout or click this link. Once that promotion is over, you'll still be able to use the 25% off on the pattern until December 31st.

beanie, Black Friday, Bulky yarn, Charisma, crochet, Cyber Monday, discount, easy, for sale, hat, Loops & Threads, pattern, size chart, slouchy, unisex

  Irma took my house, but she couldn't take my love of crochet away. (Told'ya I just needed some time to straighten things out!) Hopefully I'll be able to get back to offering more free patterns soon... Until then, please enjoy discounted prices and know that your purchases will go towards a good cause. Thank you!

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday Snapshots

photography, cat, flowers, azalea, lantana, Florida, fall

  A sleepless night of crocheting led to a few finished projects. (5 hats!) I should have been spending the day working on writing a pattern and weaving in a few leftover loose ends, but a feeble attempt at sleep ended in a brain that's not fit for counting. I went outside to clear my mind in the mild fall air instead. Something caught my eye that made me go back in for the camera... And what was supposed to be "one quick picture" later, I have a few snapshots to share: 


  A guest plant has made a surprise visit to Dad's yard... A little wild lantana (shrub verbena) popped up next to the driveway! As a child, I thought these flowers were extra-special because one bloom is like a miniature bouquet of multicolored flowers all on one stalk. It was difficult to pick these "magical" blossoms because of their many sharp thorns, so most were lucky to be left alone to grow.

  Back in those days, I would find a mix of the multicolored variety along with solid yellow ones. Little did I know how special those bright yellow flowers were... A Florida native, l. depressa is now on the endangered list of plants that are getting harder to find. It's quite common to spot l. camara (the multicolored ones) growing along the sides of roads here in central Florida, and apparently they'll work on taking over your yard as well.


flowers, azalea, salmon/orange

  Already having the camera out, I decided to get some shots of Dad's azaleas. This salmon/orange variety makes a beautiful specimen for practicing photography.


flowers, photography, azaleas, white

  The same flowers in white made for a challenge! I found it difficult to find the right settings to avoid washing out the picture, and a mild breeze picked up while I was trying. Originally I adjusted for a lower ISO and longer shutter speed, but kept getting a blurry picture due to the wind. Eventually I got an almost-perfect shot with a higher speed of 1/2500 and the ISO at 6400.


flower, photography, azaleas, pink, variegated

  The same setting got me an awesome shot of this pink variety without having to worry about blurry blossoms blowing in the breeze.


photography, flowers, azalea, bud, blossom

  And I tried my hand at a closeup of this little bud, but found the photo just didn't have much aesthetic appeal for me. I got bored with the azaleas and started to review my photos, and that's when I noticed a little green bug had been hanging out on the lantana in some of the best shots. I wanted to try again without the photo-bomber, so I went back to the driveway...


photography, flowers, lantana, l. camara

  The auto-rotate function on the camera got me again! I leaned over too far trying to check for that bug and got a vertical picture. I should have been paying more attention... I have no idea what could have distracted me so much...


photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

   Oh, yeah, maybe it's that... "ME!!!" said Jump Steady... "You're supposed to be taking pictures of ME!!!" Obviously, any further photos of the lantana were forgotten as soon as the cats realized the camera was out...


photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

  Of course, as soon as the cats had my attention they had to act like I was bothering them. With the photo shoot interrupted, Jump Steady felt it was a good time to go take a nap. I went back to see if there were any more interesting blossoms on the azaleas I might have missed...


photography, Florida, toad, southern

  And found something interesting, indeed! Another guest has invaded the yard, making a home in the mulch under the azaleas. Aw, this little guy makes a cool picture, all camouflaged in his not-so-hidden burrow... 


photography, Florida, toad, southern

  But Mr. Toad wasn't so happy that I was bothering him. He started to ooze some stuff out of his warts, and I don't speak Toad but I'm pretty sure that means "leave me alone". It's also gross. I'm almost positive that this is just the common native southern toad which is harmless, but I'm no expert... Okay, it's time to leave Mr. Toad alone.

  The day progressed without any other photo-worthy moments. We went down to the old house to pack boxes of what can be salvaged, but came back empty-handed in the end. Starting in the kitchen, I tried to empty the cabinets... My cookie sheets: Covered in mold. Baking pans: Mold. Oven mitts, towels, ice cube trays, etc.: Mold, mold, and mold. I'm starting to think anything left behind is a total loss. It puts Rip and I both in a sour mood and makes rummaging through the remains a depressing task.


photography, long exposure, night photos, stars

  The sun set an hour earlier today, revealing a beautiful moon that's just one day past full... You can bet I was back outside with the camera for those night shots I've been working on. Again I had trouble capturing the perfect picture of what I'm envisioning, so I abandoned my attempts at getting the moon in the photo. Except for that issue, I think I'm getting familiar enough with the settings and I'm ready to try a scene other than Dad's trees.

photography, long exposure, nature, oak, moss

  Still, I love these shots for what they are... It might not be much of a scene to look at in a glance, but it's the feeling you get if your brain catches what's "wrong" with the pictures. I like things that have a creepy/beautiful style more than something that's just "pretty".

  Perhaps this photography will lead me in another direction after all... But that doesn't mean it will take me away from crocheting! I'm hoping my newfound hobby helps to feed my creativity; maybe it will just fuel my uncertainty in the end. All I know now is that I have a choice between going back out with the camera or weaving in loose ends on all those hats I've been making. For once, I'm actually looking forward to picking up the yarn needle.

Happy Crocheting!
PS - Although the pattern is still lost and may never be found, I finally finished that scarf.
๐Ÿ˜