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  • Weekly Dishcloth: Cute as a Bug

    I knitted the Ladybug dishcloth from Garden Dishcloths.  It's cute as a bug!

    I've noticed that sometimes I want to make a craft of my own after seeing something my daughter has made.  There was the time I crocheted Dishcloth #46 from Big Book of Dishcloths in the same colors as a butterfly craft she made this summer.

    And then I remembered this pattern after seeing the little ladybug she made at a library activity last week.  Then I thought about how it's getting to be that time of year when ladybugs start coming inside and.... uh, napping.  Or so we tell our daughter.  We have a few days left of summery weather and I thought a cute little ladybug dishcloth would be fun.  And it was.

    I love how this turned out, and I love that I finally thought to wash and dry a knitted dishcloth before photographing it.  It looks so much better!  The purl stitches tightened up quite a bit, and the pattern is much more recognizable.  You can tell that the legs and antennae actually look like legs and antennae.  I feel so much better about some of the other dishcloths I've made with purl patterning now! 

    I'm definitely going to try the Cardinal pattern next.  I used a #6 needle and some regular worsted weight cotton yarn.  The pattern was easy to follow because the two halves mirror each other.  It was easy for me to fall into the pattern and follow along.  This was finished in about an hour or so, and like each of the other patterns in Garden Dishcloths, it's a fun little knit that gives you a sweetly outdoorsy dishcloth.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Special Snowflake

    I crocheted the dishcloth pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs!

    I've made this before, but I decided I didn't like my color choices once I was done.  And I think the pictures for the post I wrote about it were ugly because I hadn't figured out some of settings on my camera.  Yes, I know that the camera came with an instruction manual.  No, I don't know what it's trying to tell me most of the time.

    So I wanted a do-over.  And here it is!  I love the African flower motif--that's why I was so tickled with how my blanket has looked so far.  But I thought that if I crocheted this dishcloth with white and blue yarn that it could look like a snowflake. I'm not sure if it does.  Maybe I should have worked this with yellows and pinks and greens.  Maybe that's what I'll do next time.  I think I'll call this a snowflake dishcloth anyway.

    It has six points, the yarn is in wintery colors, and I've declared this dishcloth to be a snowflake dishcloth. So ta da! 

    I already feel better at this attempt at an African flower motif dishcloth because I went ahead and used the recommended I hook for this.  I normally go down a hook size or two in my crochet projects because I have a pretty loose gauge.  But with African flower motifs, you should probably use a bigger hook than what you think you might need.  The long single crochet stitch (when you crochet into the stitch two rows down) can pull the crocheted fabric of your project and you're going to want it to stretch instead of bunching.

    There are some cute patterns in Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs, and I think the dishcloth pattern is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to this motif. 

    And it makes a lovely little dishcloth as well.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Now With Slant Stitches!

    Hello, I have crocheted slant stitches!  I had been seeing tutorials for this look on Pinterest lately, and was thinking about trying it out.  When I realized that Dishcloth #34 in The Big Book of Dishcloths used it, I had to do it!

    I say this a lot, but I feel like it's okay to preach this like it's my religion: if you want to try out something new, find a dishcloth pattern that incorporates it.  It's perfect practice, it's a small project, and you have a useful and beautiful dishcloth to show for your trouble when you're finished.

    So.  The slant stitch.  You're crocheting your double crochet stitches, and then you skip a stitch.  Then you crochet three crochet stitches (or however many your pattern tells you to).

    I'm really bad at using my camera with my left hand, y'all.  Sorry for what you're about to see.

    Then!  You yarn over like you're about to make another double crochet stitch.  But!  You insert your hook into the skipped stitch three stitches back.  I know, plot twist!

    You work a yarnover and pull that yarn wayyyy out and pull it through two loops, yarnover, and pull it through your last two loops--you know, regular double crochet stuff.

    Except that you worked it a few stitches backwards.

    Then you skip a stitch and work three double crochet stitches and repeat the whole thing over again until you have this cool-looking dishcloth to show for it.

    This was fun!  I apparently should have worked another row or two, but once I decided to use orange yarn for my border I guess I got a little impatient.  I like the bright orange with the red, but I do wish I'd used the single crochet stitch border instead of this double crochet stitch border.  Oh well.

    I really like the slant stitch!  I'm pretty pumped that I learned it, and I hope I find another pattern that calls for it soon.  The dishcloth was great practice and I'm happy to have it in my gift stash.  Win win!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Pumpkin Party!

    Well, now I don't want to stop with the holiday crafts.  I've started decorating my home for fall and now I'm making Halloween crafts.  The first completed one? The Pumpkin dishcloth from Dishcloths for Special Days!

    This is a sweet little dishcloth.  And I do mean little.  You only cast on 35 stitches for each of these patterns, and you get a sweet little dishcloth that measures about 7" X 9" square. I like it. And I love these designs where you you draw a picture with purl stitches, and I love this grinning jack o'lantern. 

    If you make one for yourself, I suggest you use the orangest yarn you can find.  I tried a pumpkin dishcloth with yarn that was a little more peachy than orange once.  It looked like I made a dishcloth with some weird peach on it.  You know, if someone carved a face into a peach.  Go with orange.  Anything that looks like a hunter's vest or a traffic cone will do beautifully.  I used Sugar'n Cream yarn in the Hot Orange color.  It is bright.

    This dishcloth is fun and festive and cheerful.  I got a craving for 'fun-size' chocolate bars while I was knitting it.  And it's marked as an easy pattern.  Like all the patterns in Dishcloths for Special Days, the pattern has written instructions and a chart.  This is a great pattern for a beginning knitter, or a knitter who's new to charts, or someone who gets excited about holiday projects.  I think you can guess which one I am! 

    Happy weekend crafting!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: The Dishcloth was Hung by the Chimney with Care

    Christmas will be here before you know it! No, really: it's barely three and a half months away.  I thought I should make a dishcloth.  So I tried out the Stocking pattern from Dishcloths for Special Days.

    I have nearly a full cone of red cotton yarn and I do love Christmas stockings.  And I like these types of dishcloths where you make a picture with your purl stitches.  The pattern calls for #8 needles, and I figured I should jump down to a #6 because I have a loose gauge.  But my #6 needles were all occupied, so I used #5s.  That's why this is a bit skinny.  I bet this will loosen up with some use.  Cotton can shrink a bit when it's dried, but it's also less likely to snap back after it stretches in hot water.  I bet it will all even out.  Either way, you can tell that this is a stocking on this dishcloth and you'll probably still be able to tell even after this has been through a few washings.

    When I was growing up, my mom had a few Christmas dish towels and coffee cups.  Most of our seasonal things were purely decorative--wreaths, wallhangings, and whathaveyou--but the everyday items were really fun for me to use.  If you're going to dry off some dishes, you may as well use that dish towel with Santa on it and then enjoy that picture of his jolly face when you draped it over something.  Having even mundane, year-round types of items that celebrated the season made me happy.

    I'm the same way with dishcloths.  I like the idea of using my Christmas-y dishcloths during December.  Although, I have to say that I also love using my Christmas-y dishcloths when we're nowhere near December.  I crocheted a Christmas-y dishcloth last season that I sometimes pull out from the back of the drawer because I just want to see some Christmas cheer when I clean up a mess.  I'm hoping this brings a little bit of Christmas cheer to my gift stash, and to whomever eventually receives this as a gift.

    I had actually planned on knitting the Pumpkin dishcloth for this week, but I wasn't sure if I had enough orange yarn.  But now I'm glad I've knitted another little Christmas project.  It's never too early to get in the spirit, right?  Right?  Let's pretend like that's the case.

    Because I still have a lot of red cotton yarn and there's a candy cane pattern in here that's just waiting for me to try it out.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Simply the Best

    I crocheted Dishcloth #20 from The Big Book of Dishcloths this week and I love it. 

    When I first started flipping through this book, I wondered if there was a pattern that was just a simple square made of double crochet stitches.  And this was it!  Yup, that's all this is.  The perfect beginner dishcloth, or the perfect dishcloth for someone who's just in the mood for something simple.  Either way, this is perfect for variegated yarn. 

    I was really in the mood to use some of this yarn.  It's Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn and it's in the Camelot colorway.  I love its reds and pinks and not-quite-oranges.  And there's gray!  You wouldn't think gray would work too well with those colors, but it does and I loved it from the moment a destashing friend tossed it my way.  The navy blue yarn I used for the border made a nice contrast.  There are three border options in The Big Book of Dishcloths, and I usually like to pick the one that uses single crochet stitches.  I do love a good single crochet stitch border.

    I enjoy variegated yarn, but sometimes I don't want to use it on patterns that use distracting techniques.  If this dishcloth had a lot of front post crochet stitches, the stitches and the yarn would distract from each other and this might look messy.  I like the simple stitches of Dishcloth #20 with this wildly colorful yarn. 

    My next crocheted dishcloth is going to be fancy, I promise.  There are some really interesting patterns that use up to three different kinds of yarn and I'm excited about trying them out.  But I just had to try out this variegated yarn before I did anything else.  And I'm glad I did, because this one's a beauty.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Simple Seed Stitch

    This week's dishcloth is about as plain as it gets: it's the Seed Stitch Facecloth from Better Homes and Gardens Knitted Gifts.

    It's just what it sounds like.  It's a block of seed stitch.  "But Jen," you might be thinking, "isn't that kind of boring?"  Nope!  Not even a little!  I had thought this would be a perfect day trip project and tossed it in the car this past weekend.  But there was a bit of a hitch for my wonderful plan.  I needed #5 needles to get the right gauge, but I couldn't find my circular needles.  No big deal, though. I could just grab my straight #5 needles and all would be well.  Right?

    Wrong.

    Why are straight needles so long?!  And why hasn't this bothered me before?  What was happening?  What was intended to be a soothingly repetitive and simple pattern turned into some kind of tortuous exercise in yarn wrestling.  Wrangling the yarn while attempting to keep the ends of the needles from scraping down the side of my car door or whacking my husband in the arm made this project a lot more involved than I had anticipated!  Goodness freaking gracious.  My knitting and I were all over the place.

    It's a good thing this was a simple pattern.  If I had needed to count stitches or bring in different yarns while giving my husband incorrect directions and passing books back to a three-year-old, I would have had a disastrous project on my hands.  But since this was such an easy stitch pattern, it came out looking fine.  Besides, I had a happy toddler in the back seat and some beautiful mountains to look at while I worked on this.  This might not have been the relaxing knit I had planned for myself, but I still reached my destination with a smile on my face and a finished project in my hand.

    I felt a little less calm that night when I found my #5 circular needles behind a pattern book.  Those little needles with that flexible cable could have made all the difference in the world!  Live and learn and do a better job of packing my travel knitting in the future, I guess.  Oh well.  I just now realized that I typed that seed stitch is an 'easy' pattern in that last paragraph.  I usually don't say that a pattern or technique is easy because that's such a relative thing. There are people who love working on double pointed needles and I get nervous every single time I use them.  There are patterns I can work in my sleep that give people fits.  Skill levels and personal preferences (and needle choice!) make every pattern different for every knitter.  But I feel okay saying that if you can knit and purl at all, then you will probably find seed stitch easy. 

    Whether or not it's boring is totally up to you, though.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Knitting a Bee-autiful Dishcloth

    I knitted the Bee Skep dishcloth pattern from Garden Dishcloths and it's bee-autiful.

    I had to Google what a bee skep was, though, because I've only seen beehives.  Bees can build their own hives, obviously, but it's tricky to knit some little flying insects swarming around a hollow spot in a tree.  And people build beehives and those just look like boxes, although some people build them with little roofs on top and that's cute.  But again, not especially picturesque for a picture made up of purl stitches. 

    But a bee skep is a dome basket that houses a hive.  They're not very practical anymore (you have to pretty much destroy one and maybe kill your bees) to harvest your honey and having a standard hive where you can pull out frames lets growers keep their bees a lot safer because, well, a box is usually sturdier than a basket.  But bee skeps are awfully darn cute. 

    And they look nice on a dishcloth.

    This was a pretty quick knit, with worsted weight cotton yarn and #6 needles.  There are 56 rows to knit and none of them are very tricky.  I know something like this shouldn't be tricky, but sometimes I see things like "P 4, K 12, P 1, K 1, P 1, maybe P 1 again, are you sure you're where you're supposed to be" in the instructions and it all gets away from me.  I am willing to swear that I have totally seen instructions that say that, and I bet you have to.  But knits and purls in this pattern tend to stick to separate groups and the result is a nicely set out picture in knitting.

    Let's take a moment to talk about how irritated I am that I haven't managed to work a "busy bee" joke into any of the last three paragraphs.  I'm incredibly irritated, you guys.  Mad as a hornet, even. 

    I really enjoy the sweet nature-themed patterns in Garden Dishcloths.  I love flowers and being outside and the feeling you get from spending time with nature, whether it comes from working in your garden, taking care of your one potted plant, or just from remembering to bring in little bits of the outdoor world inside to enjoy. 

    I don't think I'll be tending any hives any time in the near future, which is a bummer because bees are so important, but I do like this cheerful little dishcloth.  I'll probably give it to my mom because my parents used to raise bees.  She likes bees a lot, and she's always appreciative of dishcloths. 

     

    I'm sure she'll be buzzing with excitement over it.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Crocheting a Very Dignified Dishcloth

    I have a lot of weird reactions to dishcloth patterns, and I catch myself attributing lots of characteristics to the things I make.  Dishcloth #84 from Big Book of Dishcloths struck me as dignified and old fashioned.  

    I'm not entirely sure why, but 'old fashioned' and 'dignified' kept going through my head while I was crocheting this.  It looks like the kind of quilt design you'd see painted on the side of barn.  Do you have those in your area?  I never seem to see them in Arkansas. When I drove through the Midwest to go to a wedding in Iowa a few years ago, I saw lots of barns with quilt-style patterns painted on several barns.  They were lovely!  I don't know why anyone would do that, but it seems like a nice tradition.

    Maybe 'traditional' is what I'm thinking of with this design. Maybe it reminds me of the kind of afghan someone would make as a wedding gift.  Maybe it's a kind of tile you'd see in an older house.  Maybe I'm just easily impressed by dishcloth patterns.

    Okay, no 'maybe' at all on that last one.  I love dishcloths.  They're tiny works of art.  With #84, I think my favorite element was the cluster stitches at different points in this square. 

     

    Working them in the centers of the rows and then the corners was a little like crocheting the granny square pattern from Complete Guide to Symbol Crochet.

    But while the granny square seemed striking and playful, this dishcloth feels a little staid with its single color.  The only way it could be more serious is if I had used off-white yarn.  Red almost feels frivolous.  As it is, I'm looking at the dishcloth and feeling bad that I have taken our winter coats to the dry cleaners.  I probably haven't memorized enough Bible versus.  It has been weeks since I gave anyone a jar of homemade jelly.

    I also forgot to take a picture earlier in the day, so I had to run out and take pictures on my balcony in order to get enough natural light and now you AND the dishcloth know I don't plan far enough in advance.

    I need to give this dishcloth as a gift very, very soon.  It will be a very earnest gift.  I don't know if I know anyone with a kitchen serious enough for this dignified country lady of a dishcloth.  But I'm sure I can find someone who enjoys a nice traditional-looking pattern with an interesting design.  Because this is a perfect example of that very thing. 

    And probably an excellent cleaner to boot.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Crocheting the Offset Knot Stitch Dishcloth. Properly.

    I crocheted the Offset Knot Stitch Dishcloth pattern from Crochet Textures for Home and Baby!

    For real this time.

    The pattern calls for Lion Brand Nature's Choice cotton yarn, which is a little bit fluffier than your average worsted weight yarn.  The last time I made this dishcloth, I only had my standard Sugar n' Cream yarn on hand so I made this with a G hook.

    But I have some Nature's Choice in my stash, and I thought it would be interesting to try this again.  I loved it the first time around, and I figured another try would be fun.  And it was!

    I used a J hook and a little more than half of a skein of Nature's Choice in Walnut. That yarn is so incredibly soft.  And the dishcloth is so big and thick and poofy!

    But I don't know if this is actually a good dishcloth.  I've never tried cleaning up with anything made from this yarn before, but it seems a bit too.... fibery.  Does that make sense?  It seems like it would be like trying to scrub something with a cotton ball.  I know the yarn is much stronger than that, but it seems like it's just too soft for using as a dishcloth and I worry about little yarn fragments going all over the place.

    I still like this, though.  I can either give this to one of my sisters, because they don't actually use the dishcloths I give them--although they do like them and display them with pride--or I can deem this a hot pad.  Even before I started making this, I thought it might be a hot pad.  Which is kind of great, actually.

    I like hot pads, and this seems like a really good one.  The knots give this a lot of height and, of course, texture.  This is incredibly textured!  I would hope that a book called Crochet Texture for Home and Baby would have some very textured crochet patterns, and this is a mighty fine one. 

    Even if I don't know what I'll do with this week's dishcloth project, I'm happy with it.  I love this simple pattern.  I'd never worked with this yarn before and that was lovely.  I have to admit that I do like a good hot pad.  And every now and then it feels good to work a pattern just the way I'm supposed to.  Weird, but good.

    I hope you have a good weekend and plenty of good luck with your crafting!

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