Crocheted Ear Savers

Over the past few weeks, I’ve crocheted about 25 ear savers for friends and friends of friends in the medical field. I don’t have a sewing machine so I can’t make masks, and I’ve been so grateful to have found this way to help.

Ear savers wrap around the back of your head or neck so the elastic straps on protective masks can loop over the attached buttons instead of your sore ears. 

I’ve seen buttons sewn onto headbands, several designs for 3D printed ear savers, even a leather ear saver to try to combat the same problem. These crocheted ones are light, soft, and can be thrown into the washing machine alongside cloth masks and mask protectors.

The first few I made used a 5” ear saver pattern by Vicki Leverre Duncan that my friend Nicole found on Facebook. As I’ve made more and gotten feedback from the people using them, I’ve adapted the original pattern and scaled it up. I’m including my adapted 5” pattern below, as well as my 7” pattern. The 7” ear savers can sit above a high ponytail, helping to ensure the ear saver and mask don’t slide down throughout the day. (A bobby pin or two can also help prevent sliding.)

A 5″ ear saver takes about 15 minutes to crochet, the 7″ takes about 20 minutes, and the buttons take 5-10 minutes to sew on good and tight.

I’ve been using Red Heart yarn because it’s light-weight, inexpensive, and durable. And I have plenty of it, including tons of “scrap yarn” from old projects. I’ve even made ear savers to match the colorful masks they’ll be paired with, which is fun. 

Hook: size H (5.00mm)
Yarn: Worsted weight
Buttons: size 3/4”–1” (20–25mm)
HDC=half double crochet stitch
SC=single crochet stitch

Pattern for 5”

  • Chain 18
  • 1 HDC in 3rd chain from the end (chain 16)
  • 1 HDC in every chain until the 2nd to last 
  • 4 HDC in last chain
  • Turn
  • 1 HDC in between stitches until reach end 
  • 1 SC stitch in same hole as last stitch
  • Finish off
  • Work in loose ends 
  • Sew a button onto each end

 Pattern for 7”

  • Chain 26
  • 1 HDC in 3rd chain from the end (chain 24)
  • 1 HDC in every chain until the 2nd to last
  • 4 HDC in last chain
  • Turn
  • 1 HDC in between stitches until reach end 
  • 4 SC stitch in same hole as last stitch, working around the end 
  • Turn
  • SC in each hole until reach end
  • Finish off
  • Work in loose ends 
  • Sew a button onto each end

I usually make the 7” ear savers with the third row, as specified above, so they don’t flop as much under the weight of the buttons. It isn’t necessary though, if you’re in a hurry. Also, if you have masks with different length elastic, you can sew 2 sets of buttons onto one 7” ear saver so it will work for either type of mask. If you do so, put larger buttons near the center of the ear saver and smaller buttons on the ends.

Buttons of the needed size have been a bit hard to find. After raiding my spare button stash and cutting all the extra buttons off the inside tags of my coats, I ordered two of these sets from Amazon. They took a couple of weeks to arrive, and they’re random assortments, so I picked out and paired the largest buttons for use on the ear savers, then put aside the rest for a future project. Now that there isn’t so much of a run, I’ve been able to order a pack of these. (Remember, if you’re ordering buttons online, be sure to check the reviews and comments to make sure the buttons don’t break easily.) 

If you make any ear savers, I’d love to see pictures! And if you don’t crochet but have really sore ears from your masks, let me know! I’m happy to keep making more.

Quarantine Cravings

Tyler and I have now been working from home for 3 weeks and physically isolating ourselves for 5. The last restaurant I sat down and ate at was the Taco Shed in Warner Robbins, which I experienced for the first time with two friends on Saturday, March 7. I dearly miss both my friends and the tacos and chips and salsa I devoured that day. And I dearly miss the pleasure of going out to eat, of trying something I would never have combined in those ways, and paying other people for that pleasure. I’ll be tipping far more than 20% for the rest of my life.

As I was writing last week’s posts, I noticed a Wendy’s commercial that made me so irrationally angry I wanted to punch something. In crisp 4K, slow-motion, the commercial displayed a chocolate Frosty being released into its cup, the gorgeous brown crystals aligning to, in a very tight shot, curl just so at the top. And I yearned for a Frosty to the point of fury. Which, I immediately decided, deserved its own blog post.

When I lived in England for 4 months, my longest uninterrupted stint abroad, I craved two things: waffles and chocolate Frosty’s. When I landed in Newark, my gate was literally directly across from a Wendy’s. I almost started crying. I thanked God with my whole heart for this immense blessing. 

I walked directly to end of the line, waited my turn, then told the cashier I wanted a number 1 and the largest Frosty she could legally give me. To her confused face, I said I wanted a Frosty in the biggest possible cup, pantomimed a container approximately the size of a large popcorn bucket. After a beat, she punched in my order, and I moved down to the end of the counter to wait. Also waiting was a wonderful ten-year old girl and her mother, who I’d chatted with on the plane. When they learned I had a 7-hour layover, they invited me to join them for lunch—or whatever this meal was. We sat on the floor together, and I dredged my fries through my Frosty, a novelty activity to them. I inhaled my ketchup-drenched burger and relished every single bite of that Frosty. 

You may be asking why I don’t hit up the Wendy’s drive-thru today. “It’s only shelter-in-place, and the police aren’t stopping people. Drive-thru is still allowed. It’s food so it’s an essential service.” Except that I have plenty of food here in my home, the ability to make more, and plenty of ice cream even. So my going to Wendy’s would be nonessential.

However, on Saturday, I ran some ear savers I’d crocheted to a friend who’s a health care provider. After talking in her driveway for a while and ensuring the new ear savers were a good size, I headed back home. It was after 2pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. After conferring with Tyler, I stopped in the Wendy’s drive-thru. I felt giddiness as well as dread as I ordered what my husband had texted me, then asked for a number 1 and a large Frosty.

The fries weren’t as fresh as I’m used to. The burger was just above lukewarm. I suspected both had been sitting out for at least a few minutes. But the Frosty. The Frosty was divine.

I’d love to hear about the quarantine cravings that have been hitting you!

Commercials in the Time of COVID-19

Over the past week I’ve noticed a shift on TV. It started when Tyler and I were watched an On Demand episode of “Good Eats”, because I much prefer it to Sports Center without live sports and the “My Cat from Hell” marathon had ended. A commercial featured a black woman in golden choir robes muttering under her breath for the soloist to hurry up. A blue-polo’d Best Buy employee pops in beside her, whispering conspiratorially that they offer next-day delivery “on all kinds of gifts.”

The soloist was singing the final phrase of the “12 Days of Christmas” and the snowflake graphics around the Best Buy logo made it clear this was a holiday commercial. So why was it on at the end of March? 

Because this was On Demand, I saw the commercial again a few minutes later, and this time I paid more attention to it than I had to the show.

I’ve been complaining privately for a few weeks that the ads on TV seem to belong to a different universe, certainly a different era. In the ads, people gather for dinner, sharing fries with their family members. They high five strangers in a sports bar. They meet up with a friend for a brisk walk in the pollen-overrun park. Rooms-to-Go, Home Depot, and Kohl’s urge us to come out for their big sales. Most commercials call for an immediate action, like a trip to go shopping or to go out to eat, and neither are part of this world anymore. I’m not treating myself to Applebee’s after work and I’m not shopping for furniture. I’m not introducing any friends to a Big Mac. I don’t live in that world, or era, anymore. And neither does most of the country.

Last week, however, the commercials that companies seem to have rushed through production began to enter the rotation. Rather than shoot something new, Best Buy pulled out their holiday ad to let us know they’ll deliver online orders tomorrow. The timeliness of the message, for the first time I can remember, was valued so highly that the dated decor and set up was ignored.

The voiceover in one commercial assured me that eventually we will all gather for dinner and safely clink glasses again. A recent Domino’s commercial featuring a pants-less, sock-sliding dancer was reedited so the emphasis was on no contact delivery instead of trackable delivery.

Certain channels are using infographics on 5-second spots to remind us to distance ourselves and wash our hands. Channels are running marathons of their most popular shows and movies (where people hug and shake hands like it’s nothing!!!!! *starts hyperventilating*). Most don’t mention the coronavirus or COVID-19 by name. They merely refer to “the current crisis” and say our social bonds are so important, “especially now.” 

I’m glad that the ads have begun to reflect our different, still-changing reality. It feels less dystopian, less disconnected, less depressing. I want those ads to acknowledge our collective reality, since I know they’re speaking directly to me. Yet I find this somewhat ironic, as I also want to escape the pandemic in what I’m watching and reading. I’ll abide absolutely no stories or movies about hospitals, police, missing people, war, or death. I’m not interested in Marvel movies or Fast & Furious. I would rather eat nothing by PB&J for a week than to watch Avengers: Endgame. I want to be comforted. I want to laugh. Movies and shows and commercials that used to do so don’t anymore.

Live sports would be great to let my mind sink into, but of course we don’t have that outlet, so it’s zany baking shows and books I’ve already read and Sarah Bareilles music videos and animal shows centered on zoos and aquariums. It’s Mythbusters and Moana. It’s Animal Crossing for a lot of people. Nothing competitive, no high stakes. It’s more timing sitting on the couch, doing nothing, and more time looking out the window at whatever’s out there. It’s far more time researching bread baking and liking people’s social media posts about bread baking. It’s dancing Tic Tocs and threads of favorite songs. It’s a lot of quarantine memes.

It’s so strange to know that so much of our usual lives has just… stopped. 

And, of course, so much changes so quickly, yet at different rates in different places. While drafting this post, NYC residents got push notifications asking that everyone with healthcare experience volunteer for hospital shifts ASAP. Reality in NYC is different than mine in Macon, GA. It’s different than in my hometown of Beaufort, SC, which is just beginning to shut down, but I’ve been working from home for two weeks. My cousin in Oklahoma is moving to Georgia this week, and it really is like traveling into a different, more frightening world the farther east she goes.

To a degree, this has always been true. Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water. The Navajo reservation never has. Three of my friends have had and are recovering from COVID-19. Thousands of people have lost loved ones to it already. The main thing that unites us now is how not normal things are, and how uncertain and frightening that is. And if we can’t even acknowledge that much, that things are not normal, I won’t even consider buying what you’re selling.

Have you seen a commercial that was clearly released or reedited in response to the pandemic? What was it advertising?