All Washed Up

I’m pleased to announce the release of my first e-book on Ravelry, All Washed Up: 13 Tunisian Crochet Dishcloths. I’d wanted to pull together such a collection for a long time, and am so happy that it’s finally finished. (The British might say “done and dusted,” and I suppose you could use these cloths for general housework as well as dish washing, though they’re a little too pretty for that.)

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Each week a new dishcloth will be released, until all thirteen patterns have been self-published. Buy individual patterns for $2.00, or purchase the entire group for $10.00. (Follow the link in the previous paragraph to the main Ravelry page for the e-book.)

I’d first thought to call the e-book “Dirty, Dirty Dishcloths,” and you can see remnants of that thinking in the name of my Bump and Grind Cloth

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… and my Three-Way Cloth, whose working title was “Melange a Trois.” (Yes, I am just that juvenile.)

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Other cloths in the collection grew out of my love of perusing stitch dictionaries, including the Wrap It Up Cloth …

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… Rack ‘Em Stack ‘Em Cloth …

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… and Underwater Basketweaving Cloth.

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And a few others are those that previously appeared in the book Quick & Simple Crochet for the Home, where the rights have come back to me:

Double-Crossed Cloth …

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… and Honeycomb Cloth.

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I hope you Tunisian crochet lovers out there enjoy working your way through this collection as much as I did! As always, I’d love to see projects on Ravelry.

P.S. I’m contemplating a Tunisian crochet-along from this collection sometime next month. Join my Ravelry group, where the T-CAL will be hosted, and stay tuned for details!

Posted in Dishcloths, Tunisian Crochet | 2 Comments

Blue Boy Transformed

Long-time blog readers will have read about the demise of my favorite sock, Blue Boy, who with his boon companion Wildfoote, shuffled off this mortal coil in February. If you’re unfamiliar with that story, spend the 15 seconds required to read about the sock that lived fast and played hard. Then come back and join me here.

As you  may know, I like using things to their fullest — rather like Blue Boy lived his life. I’m like one of those Depression-era grandmas who saved balls of twine, only I save balls of yarn from worn-out socks.

I’m working on a new Bandwagon Blanket, in which I’m incorporating these sad little leftovers from formerly happy feet, and I thought today I’d give you a glimpse into what goes into transforming an old sock into something brand new.

First, I frogged the legs of Blue Boy and Wildfoote and wound the yarn into balls. (“Frog legs”? I slay me!)

"Oh, no! Mrs. Beth!"

“Oh, no! Mrs. Beth!”

Then, I skeined the yarn on my swift.

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While the yarn was still secure on the swift, I tied each skein in several places to keep it together. Notice how kinky the yarn is, after having been in sock form for some 7 years. (And we’re not talking kinky in the fun way. Obviously, Blue Boy has some ‘splaining to do.)

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Next, the skeins were treated to a leisurely bath in warm water and wool wash. Afterward, they were rolled in a towel to blot out excess water.

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Finally, I hung the 3 skeins in the basement to dry.

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Notice that I used clothespins at the bottom of each to weigh them down in order to discourage the kinks.

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Voila! Two skeins of beautiful, ready-to-repurpose yarn, along with a brand-new mitered square made from the third skein. In all, I was able to salvage 30 grams of good yarn from the two socks.

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See? Proof that worn-out old objects can be transformed into something beautiful. Have you ever repurposed yarn for a new project? Tell me about it in the comments.

Posted in reusing, Scrap Projects, Tunisian Crochet, Tutorial | Leave a comment

Tunisian Nine-Patch Dishrag

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A few years ago, I fell hard for Kay Gardiner’s Nine-Patch Dishrag and made one for my dishcloth drawer. Since it has stood The Test of Time so well, I decided to make another.

As I was knitting up a new warshrag, I started wondering what it would look like done in Tunisian crochet. Here is the humble result. I used Tunisian reverse stitch in order to get a more-or-less 1:1 stitch to row ratio; I worked the miters using Tss2tog, Tks, Tss2tog over the center 5 stitches of each row in order to echo the central line in Kay’s miters. (You will have to judge whether this works; I’m not in love with the result. When I make another of these, I will substitute Tss3tog worked over the center 3 stitches of each row.)

As with Kay’s original — and as with all my favorite dishcloth patterns — this is a great use for all those leftover bits of yarn you’ve got hanging around. Keep in mind, though, that because this one uses so many odds and sods, there are a gazillion yarn ends to weave in, too.

(Note: My sneaky ulterior motive in offering this free dishcloth pattern is to whet your appetite for my upcoming Tunisian crochet dishcloth e-book All Washed Up, which will be released later this month.)

Tunisian Nine-Patch Dishrag
Materials: Knit Picks Dishie (100% cotton; light worsted), Honeydew (MC), Aster (CC); 6.0 mm Tunisian crochet hook; 5.0 mm crochet hook (used for bind-off and edging)

Gauge: Let’s not worry about that this time, hmm?

Finished Dimensions: Approx. 10.5 in/26.5 cm square; each block measures approx. 3.25 in/8 cm

Abbreviations: CC contrasting color; MC main color; Tks Tunisian knit stitch; Trs Tunisian reverse stitch; Tss Tunisian simple stitch; Tss2tog Tunisian simple stitch 2 together (decrease)

The center strip of the dishrag is worked first, from the bottom up; blocks 4 and 5 are worked by picking up stitches along the center block. Blocks 6 – 9 are worked by picking up stitches along adjacent squares, along with an extra stitch between the squares.

Blocks 1 – 5 each consist of 12 Trs “ridges.”

Refer to photo for block placement.

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Block 1 (MC)
With MC, ch 12.

Set-up Row: Forward pass: Pull up lp in second ch and each ch across. (12 lps on hook) Return pass: Yo and pull through 1 lp, [yo and pull through 2 lps] across.(1 lp remains on hook after every return pass, which counts as first st of row.)

Rows 1 – 11: Forward pass: 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Note: 11 ridges have been completed at the end of row 11. The first row of Block 2 completes the 12th ridge.

Block 2 (CC)
Row 1: Forward pass: Drop MC, insert hook into st as for Trs, pull up CC, 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Rows 2 – 11: Forward pass: 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Note: 11 ridges have been completed at the end of row 11. The first row of Block 3 completes the 12th ridge.

Block 3 (MC)
Row 1: Forward pass: Drop CC, insert hook into st as for Trs, pull up MC, 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Rows 2 – 11: Forward pass: 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Note: 11 ridges have been completed at the end of row 11. The bind-off completes the 12th ridge.

Bind-off in Trs: With smaller hook, [insert hook into next st as for Trs, yo, pull through st and lp on hook] across, fasten off.

Block 4 (MC)
Set-up Row: Forward pass: Pick up 1 st in each stitch along one side of Block 2. (12 lps on hook) Return pass: Yo and pull through 1 lp, [yo and pull through 2 lps] across.

Rows 1 – 11: Forward pass: 1 Trs in each st across. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Bind-off in Trs: With smaller hook, [insert hook into next st as for Trs, yo, pull through st and lp on hook] across, fasten off.

Block 5 (MC)
Set-up Row: Forward pass: Pick up 1 st in each stitch along unworked side of Block 2. (12 lps on hook) Return pass: Yo and pull through 1 lp, [yo and pull through 2 lps] across.

Repeat instructions for Block 4.

Block 6 (CC)
Set-up Row: Forward pass: Pick up 1 st in each stitch along side of Block 4, pick up 1 stitch in corner of Block 2, pick up 1 st in each stitch along side of Block 3. (25 lps on hook) Return pass: Yo and pull through 1 lp, [yo and pull through 2 lps] across.

Note: Use stitch marker if needed to keep track of center stitch.

Row 1: Forward pass: 1 Trs in each st to 2 sts before center st, over next 5 sts (Trs2tog, Tks, Trs2tog), 1 Trs in each st across.. Return pass: Yo, pull through 1 lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps] across.

Rep Row 1 until 5 sts remain.

Mitered Bind-Off: Insert hook into next 3 sts as for Tss3tog, yo, pull through sts and lp on hook, insert hook into edge st, pull through st and lp on hook, fasten off.

Blocks 7 – 9 (CC)
Repeat instructions for Block 6.

I finished the cloth by working one round of single crochet, making 3 stitches in each corner and changing colors to match colors of blocks.

Weave in ends and block if desired.

Please keep in mind that this pattern has not been reviewed by my intrepid technical editor, so you may need to rely on your spidey sense to get you out of any jams. Have fun with it — and make sure to post your projects on Ravelry so that everyone can admire them. (I’d love to see how you make this cloth your own.)

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Posted in Dishcloths, Scrap Projects, Tunisian Crochet | Leave a comment

The Right Tool for the Job

My Swatch Maker (2)

I did it: Once again, I succumbed to temptation. I do like a good tool, after all. And, as everyone knows, it’s important to have the right tool for the job at hand.

I’d been wanting to sample some color-and-weave patterns before committing a whole warp to one, so when Jillian Moreno of Knitty blogged about the Swatch Maker Loom, I knew that I’d found just what I was looking for.

After mulling the purchase over for all of 15 minutes, hopped over to purlandloop.com, where I got the Swatch Maker 3-in-1. This handy tool lets you play with three different setts (number of warps per inch; 8, 10, and 12) on the same loom.

Being a natural material kind of gal, I chose the birch loom over the acrylic option. I think the folks at Purl & Loop have been mighty busy since the knittyblogging, because when I opened my package, I could still smell the varnish!

Photo from purlandloop.com; my loom came looking just like this. The grooves on the ends of the loom are for an 8 ends per inch (worsted weight yarn), while the holes are used for 10 or 12 epi.

Photo from purlandloop.com; my loom came looking just like this. The grooves on the ends of the loom are for an 8 ends per inch (worsted weight yarn), while the holes are used for 10 or 12 epi.

My loom is a beautiful thing, and I just love it. I’ve been playing with houndstooth on it, experimenting with different ways to deal with selvages before starting a scarf. (I’m still thinking on just the right color combo. The yarns here are left over from Craftsy class preparation.)

Houndstooth Detail

Perhaps you noticed the fork in the picture at the top of this post? This is what the instructions told me to use to beat in the weft, and I’m nothing if not a rule follower. And you know what? It’s the perfect tool for the job.

Not a Fork

I hope Purl & Loop sells lots and lots of these looms — they’re wonderful tools, and I know I’ll be enjoying mine for years to come.

Posted in Weaving | Leave a comment

A Real Piece of Work

I often watch YouTube programs while crocheting samples for upcoming design releases, and the other day I found an interview of Meryl Streep, by Annette Insdorf, part of her Reel Pieces series for The 92nd Street Y in New York. If you haven’t had the chance to watch any of the great 92nd Steet Y programs, and if you are interested in history, current events, film studies – really, just about anything – I encourage you to take a look at the YouTube channel.

Go ‘head: I’ll wait.

In the interview I watched, Streep had been asked to speak to all the preparatory work that goes on prior to the act of acting, and here’s part of her response (find it starting at 1:04:03):

When [acting’s] done effortlessly, it’s just pure joy. … In film, you can’t let any of the work show; it proceeds it; it’s way behind … and it’s like your lunch: It’s in your stomach, [but] you don’t want to look at it.

You need to know that as I was listening to Streep talk about preparation, I was angrily crocheting on a blanket sample just after having ripped out several hours of stitching. I’d found a fundamental design mistake toward the start of the design, and was furious with myself for having made what was, in my mind, a bush-league error.

Something occurred to me as I listened to her discuss what the viewer sees (the end product) as opposed to how the actor has gotten to that moment (the preparation). While I certainly don’t have the raw talent and years of experience under my belt in crochet design that Streep has in her craft, my process of getting to a finished product is really the same – or should be:

Even the simplest design, even the simplest act, requires lots of time and tons of hard slog. It’s the preparation — yes, for me, the often frustrating struggle — that propels an idea from rough beginnings to a simple, honest, seemingly effortless result.

I often, half-jokingly, say to friends that my design tagline should be “I make all the mistakes, so you don’t have to.” I usually say this with frustration, through gritted teeth, after having grimly ripped out yet another “piece of work.”  I too often forget why I bother with the struggle of getting things “just right”:

I want users of my patterns, especially newer crafters, to have a positive experience with my simple designs, to feel confident and to be proud of sharing their work with others.

So I will continue to experience the frustration for my customers. That’s my job! And, behind the scenes, I’ll keep on making one dog’s breakfast after another, so that when the customer picks up one of my patterns, all they’ll see is simplicity and all they’ll experience is creative joy. (A gal can dream, can’t she?)

After all, I make all the mistakes, so you don’t have to.

Prototype of Baby Texture Blanket, which will be released later this year as part of the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program.

Prototype of Baby Texture Blanket, which will be released later this year as part of the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program.

Posted in Keeping It Cool | 3 Comments