Archive for June 2010

Straight to my lover’s heart for me

June 16, 2010

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Pattern: Right Angles Dishcloth by Dilys Sutherland
Yarn: Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co. Peaches & Creme Ombres (100% cotton), colorway Pink Lemonade
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

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Pattern: Little Tuffys by Adrienne Medrano
Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted (100% organic cotton), colorways Malted Milk and Ginger
Needles: U.S. 10.5 wood straights

How fast can yarn turn into fabric? Does the speed change if the needles are traveling through bright color or natural shades? What physical laws govern the transformation of plant fiber into tough, scrubby, irresistible texture itching to be held in the hands and used in daily tasks?

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The mitered square is knitting turned architecture. Start with any odd number of stitches, work a double-decrease on the middle 3 stitches every other row. Watch the fabric rotate itself around a diagonal axis into a perfect square. Add streaks of variegated color, and the ninety-degree angle of the garter ridges leaves an indelible impression.

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One ball each of four organic shades of Simply Cotton Worsted has lasted me through a huge market bag and four full-sized washcloths before finally petering it in this double-thick mini-cloth, knit in moss stitch with what was left of two of the colors held together. If you can cobble together 40 yards of yarn from whatever bits and pieces you have lying around, you can make a scrubber that fits perfectly in the hand and looks great on the counter.

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Craft takes time. We knitters think of an item that takes only five or six hours of work as lightning quick. But sometimes, our scale of time is the same as the outside worlds. Before you know it, yarn becomes more than it ever imagined. And you realize that creation is possible on anybody’s schedule.

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Every time I think that I’m the only one who’s lonely

June 12, 2010

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Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth by PIsgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Ltd.
Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted (100% organic cotton), colorways Malted Milk and Toffee
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

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Pattern: Long Beach Washcloth by Lion Brand Free Online Patterns
Yarn: Knit PIcks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted (100% organic cotton), colorways Marshmallow, Malted Milk, Ginger, Toffee
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

Dishcloths that use more than one color turn a simple ball of cotton yarn into a bottomless cup. Cloth after cloth comes from your needles, and yet the yarn never runs out.

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When you can’t decide what dishcloth to knit, the Ballband is always there for you. Looks great in any color combination, including this sepiatone version. Uses less than half a skein of each color. Not just retro — classic.

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The Long Beach Washcloth is a simple star stitch all-over pattern in alternating double-wide main color stripes and single-wide contrasting color stripes in three varieties. It would be a great way to experiment with color — maybe three related hues and one bold contrast, or three solids with a variegated main color. A lot of ends to weave in, but a really polished and highly textured result.

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My stash of perfect-for-any-occasion gift washcloths is growing. And I’m not nearly burned out. There’s a tote bag of gorgeous cotton in my stash, and if I have anything to say about it, it’s not going to have a chance to cool down to room temperature.

There’s no sign in the sky to follow

June 11, 2010

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Pattern: Reversible Braids Scarf by Bobbi Patterson
Yarn: RYC Classic Soft Lux
Needles: U.S. 7 Signature straights

Test knitting. It’s when someone has designed a knitted object, written out a pattern, and needs other people to follow the pattern to make sure all the directions work. The fun of test knitting is being part of the pattern creation process and getting a peek at a pattern before it’s released to the general public. The work of it is that it’s knitting on a deadline.

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There’s a group on Ravelry called Free Pattern Testers. I’ve never been a part of it, but I happened across a solicitation for test knitters when a Rav friend happened to mark the unreleased pattern as a favorite. Scarf? Well, you know my passion for scarves. Reversible cables? Something I’ve long been meaning to try. I contacted the designer with an offer to test knit for her, and shortly thereafter the draft pattern was in my e-mail inbox.

Reversible cables employ a clever trick to get the cable to pop on both sides; they’re actually done in ribbing rather than in knit on a purl ground. I loved getting the hang of how they worked. The pattern had a definitional error that I caught along with many of my fellow test knitters, and Bobbi had a revised pattern out to us within a few days. Then it was just a matter of knitting to the end of my yarn. In her original, the designer had used a plied worsted yarn. My version was a bit heavier and used a single-ply yarn with a metallic accent. No problem getting these cables to pop, though.

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You can’t see it in these photos, but I missed crossing some cables — once consistently all the way across a row, and once on only one of the three cable panels. I think of those errors as giving the scarf character. When a mosque is built, the workers are said to make at least one deliberate mistake, because only God should be perfect. Perfection can be exhilarating, but even a scarf riddled with mistakes will keep its owner warm. And I’m willing to bet the eventual charitable recipient of this experiment in reversibility will never notice that his scarf isn’t flawless.

Now I know my life is giving me more than memories

June 8, 2010

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Pattern: Dots Within Stripes by Vicky R. Peterson
Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted (100% organic cotton), colorways Marshmallow and Ginger
Needles: U.S. 8 aluminum straights

One of my favorite desserts from my mother’s kitchen is an icebox pecan pie. It’s pecans crushed and mixed with graham crackers in the crust, a whipped cream filling, and the delicious crust crumbled over the top, all put in the freezer.

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The colors of this dishcloth, and the pattern of flecks within stripes, remind me of that pie. Like the pie, this is a luscious, rich, yet subdued cloth. It’s demonstrably handmade, as you can tell if you look for the flaw in the picture below. But it’s obviously also suitable for company and the good china.

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Dishcloths are such pedestrian, utilitarian objects that arguments regularly break out on Ravelry over whether they’re worth making by hand. What is more precious, though, than those kitchen creations? The taste of a favorite dessert, created from scratch, deserves a kitchen adorned with beautiful and useful linens. Even if none of us are the cooks our mothers are, we can evoke its memory and honor that spirit. Goodness is worth creating and savoring, in consumable and scrubbable forms alike.

And you see me, somebody new

June 6, 2010

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Pattern: slip stitch dishcloth by fourchette
Yarn: Ella Rae Baby Cotton (88% cotton, 12% nylon), colorways Ink and Spring
Needles: U.S. 6 Signature straights

My neutral period’s not over, not by a long shot. But every palette of earth tones needs a little jolt of dayglo zazz.

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This pattern is a riff on the Clover Tweed Dishcloth that I made awhile back. It’s garter stitch with slip-stitching forming the color pattern. That makes for a squishy texture. And since this is a thinner yarn than many used for dishcloths, the effect is almost delicate, drapey. It’s equally at home in a spa or on a sink.

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I made a half-baked single-crochet hanging loop, proving to myself that I can’t just sort of intuit crochet. It’s almost time for me to learn, though. And even if it’s ugly, it’ll hang. The cloth isn’t ugly at all, though. No, it’s eye-burningly gorgeous. It stands out in the stack of taupe and white and natural and black dishcloths I’ve made like a flamingo in a flock of crows. A splash of color. A highlight.