Remote Control: Creating Usefulness

9 minutes
Remote Control is the weekly blog for Oklahoma Today fall intern Abigail Hall. Check back each week as she discusses her work-from-home experience.
Week 1 Remote Control: Adapting
Week 2 Remote Control: The New Normal
Week 3 Remote Control: Check It Out

I don’t know about you, but there have been times during my work-from-home experience that I felt myself slowly losing my mind. A year ago I would have told you that I would be completely happy to be a homebody and never leave my apartment—but now that I’ve actually experienced it, involuntarily, I can affirmatively say that is a lie.

And I love home. I’ve always loved being home. It’s cozy, comfy, warm, and happy. It’s where all my favorite things are! Why would I ever want to go anywhere else?

Because isolation is not actually fun.

Isolation is the opposite of what humans need. That’s not to say I don’t understand introverts or the tendency to need to be alone—but true isolation is stifling, draining, and monotonous. There have been times where I felt like time was moving slower than sap dripping down a tree.

If you’re in that place, I feel you. One of the things that helped me manage the isolation and anxiety was diving deeper into my hobbies—particularly creating through the art of crochet.

If you don’t know what crochet is, that’s OK—crochet is lesser known than its more popular relative—knitting—but in my opinion it’s far easier to pick up and produce, and can be a time-filler wherever you are.

I first learned how to crochet from a friend while traveling abroad in England several years ago, and have long loved making bulky scarves, mittens, and blankets. However, during quarantine I’ve wanted to make things that are useful, so I’ve been experimenting with crocheting house goods like dish and face cloths, and soap savers, which are small pouches that hold a bar of soap in order to preserve the bar in the long-run.

My mom actually requested the soap saver as a gift far before quarantine began, but I never got around to it until, well, I had nothing better to do. And then I realized I could use my craft to make purposeful items that my friends, family, and self, can use without going to the store.

Below is the soap saver I made for my mom that she uses with her Zote laundry soap bar.

And here is a sample of a dishcloth I finished recently:

Currently, I’m working on a more delicate cloth to use for my skin care.

If this sounds like something of interest to you, it’s so easy to get started—all you need is some yarn, a crochet hook, and probably at some point scissors. Most major retailers carry crochet hooks, but you can also order them online from Amazon or yarn retailers.

The crochet hook is required—crochet doesn’t exist without it—but they are typically very inexpensive and you can buy packs of several hooks varying by size. The importance of the size is about the size of the yarn you’re using, as well as how tight or loose you want your yarn product to be. For these kinds of projects I recommend tighter stitches, which means less holes and openings in the product.

As for where to get yarn, again, most major retailers sell yarn skeins, as well as craft stores and yarn retailers, whether brick and mortar or online. My favorite yarn to use is Lion Brand (sold online and at stores like Wal-Mart) because it’s so versatile—I can get almost any size and material base of yarn, which is great for me because it allows me to create different kinds and sizes of products.

If you’re wanting to make a dishcloth or soap saver, the best kind of yarn is thin and as close to 100 percent cotton as you can get. Cotton has the best ability to be washed and reused. A good yarn weight to look for is light or fine with a 5.0 mm crochet hook.

5.0 mm hook

5.0 mm hook

Ready to get started?

In my opinion, the best crochet teachers are YouTube tutorials—you get a voiceover explanation as well as a visual that you can pause and rewind as many times as you need. Once you understand the basics of how to start to crochet, you can start looking up different stitches and patterns. Most of my products are based on items I’ve seen other people on Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, and YouTube make. The best way to get started is to follow other people’s patterns, and then as you gain confidence you can start to supplement the basic pattern with your own style.

If you’re ready to jump in, here is a great starter tutorial for the beginning basics of crocheting:

Now, if you’re ready to start a project, here is my original dishcloth pattern:

I used a light weight cotton yarn from Lion Brand for this dishcloth.

Abbreviations:

CH = Chain
CH 1 = Chain 1
YO = Yarn over
ST = Stitch
SC = Single Crochet stitch
HDC = Half Double Crochet stitch
REP = Repeat
MP = Modified Puff Stitch

Modified Puff Stitch:
This is my modified puff stitch. The regular puff stitch can have a sequence of five loops to eleven loops on the crochet hook before the final YO. My version has eight.

Insert hook in first stitch, YO, pull through stitch, REP until there are eight loops on the hook. YO. Pull through all eight loops. CH 1. Skip the next stitch. (Each MP counts as two stitches) REP.

Instructions:

Row 1: CH even number (I used 30). YO. Turn (to crochet in the opposite direction from the backside of the chain.)
Row 2: SC across. YO. Turn.
Row 3: 1 HDC. MP (REP all across, save for the last stitch). In the final stitch, 1 HDC. YO, Turn.
Row 4: 1 HDC. 3 MP. HDC across until the seventh to last stitch. 3 MP, 1 HDC. YO, Turn.
Row 5: HDC across. YO. Turn.
Row 6: Repeat row 4
Row 7: Repeat row 5

Continue to alternate repeating row 3 and 4 until it is the size you want (I went to 30 rows).

Third to last row: REP Row 5
Second to last row: REP Row 3
Last row: REP Row 2

And there you go! Feel free to share your experiments with me, or your own projects you’ve been creating during this time at @abigail_reports on Twitter or abigail.hall@travelok.com.

Written By
Abigail Hall

Abigail Hall is Oklahoma Today's fall editorial intern.

Abigail Hall
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