2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Who knew a dishcloth could be so complicated?!?

Today is one long answer to a question I received last week.

I was asked if I had a preferred number of stitches to cast on when I knit dishcloths.  And my answer is YES!  But...  of course, as with many things, it depends...

What it depends on are the details regarding a particular pattern, as well as yarn and needles used.  Fortunately I've kept some notes - because once upon a time I imagined making a drawerful of neat and tidy knitted dishcloths, and my notes were going to eventually insure that every cloth I knitted would be perfect and uniform.  😄😆😂

Of course, the perfectly uniform dishcloths never materialized, but since I took notes as I was trying I'm going to share those notes here for anyone who might be interested - or for myself if no one else cares.

The first thing I settled on was the size dishcloth I truly like to use.  I used to think I liked dishcloths about 8 inches square, but I found that knitted cotton dishcloths stretch out a great deal when wet.  

While I went on for some time positive that I liked 8-inch square dishcloths, somewhere along the way I must have knitted a smaller cloth and realized that it was easier for me to handle.  Through some trial and error, I finally settled on a knitted cotton cloth approximately 7.25 - 7.5 inches square as being pretty perfect for me.  

To be sure, though...  A cloth that size shrinks to something that looks kind of silly once it's gone through a hot wash and a tumble dry.  But as knitted cotton is prone to do, these cloths will usually stretch out to over their original 7.25-inch selves once they're soaking wet. And the size they are when wet is what truly matters.

The size needles one prefers to knit with will also affect the final size of a cloth.  All my "kitchen cotton" is worsted weight and a lot of patterns will call for needles sized 6-8 for that weight yarn, but I get my best result with a size 4 needle.  

I use circular needles because I prefer the feel of the small needles in my hands as I knit a small project like a dishcloth.  And, in case anyone is curious... I use cheap aluminum circulars with slightly kinky cables.  They work just dandy.

Different cotton yarns will also affect the final size of a cloth.  My favorite cotton is Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton, but I've experimented with various kitchen cottons.  

I also have Knit Picks cotton and Crafter's Secret 
(both slightly thinner worsted cottons than those above)

Keep in mind that your tension may produce different size cloths than I've produced.  Generally, I'm neither a tight, nor loose knitter.  But I do find my stitches loosen up with purling, so sometimes my cloths get a little on the loose side (which, I'm sure, is one reason I like to use smaller needles).

Also, have you noticed that knitted cotton shrinks lengthwise, while crocheted cotton shrinks widthwise?  Weird, I know.  But I've seen it with my own eyes.  Because of this, when I knit a cotton cloth, I always try to knit it a bit longer (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 inch longer) than it is wide.  That way after it's washed and dried it's most likely to come out square. Just the way I like a dishcloth.  

The notes below apply to my two favorite dishcloth patterns:  Boxes (to which I add a garter stitch edging all around), and DW Darrell Waltrip Dishcloth.   

The Boxes pattern makes a pretty cloth (especially with solid yarn) that is flexible and slightly nubby.  Not quite scrubby nubby.  Just nubby enough to be interesting.

Boxes Dishcloth

The DW Dishcloth (below) makes a denser, thicker cloth that makes up for its slight sacrifice of flexibility with the fun way it has with variegated yarns:
DW Darrell Waltrip Dishcloths

If you're still with me, it's finally time to get to the specifics.  I'll try to be briefer and to the point here.   My notes aren't fancy.  But being basic, I hope they're understandable to anyone who knows enough (and cares enough) to be wanting to knit a dishcloth.  Keep in mind, your tension (and therefore size of cloth) may vary from mine.


Thick cotton yarns :

Lily’s Sugar n’ Cream, size 4 needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 8.25” x 8.25”
Peaches & Cream (solid), size 4 needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 8” x 9”
Peaches & Cream (solid), size 4 needles, CO 36 stitches, cloth measures 7.75” x 8.25” 

My preferred size cloth with either of these thicker yarns is 7.25 - 7.5 inches wide.  I usually get this size using size 4 needles, and a CO of 34 stitches.

Slightly thinner yarns:
Peaches & Cream Prints, size 4 needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 7.75” x 8.25” 
Premier Home Cotton Multi Grande, size 4 needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 7.25” x 7.75”
Premier Home Cotton (solid), size 4 needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 7” x 7.5”

Knit Picks Cotton (solid), size 5 (or 6) needles, CO 38 stitches, cloth measures 8" square.

I like a larger cloth for washing face and body with, so I worked up some according to these specifics:
Sugar n’ Cream or Peaches & Cream, size 4 needles, CO 44 stitches, cloth measures 9" x 9.75"

Here's a picture showing the size difference between my preferred dishcloth size (orange), and my preferred face and body washcloth (variegated):

In the end, it does seem to me that one needs to work a pattern once to see how large it's going to be and then figure what changes are needed to get the size of cloth one prefers.  Adapting the size can be a matter of changing needle sizes, or figuring out the the number of stitches in a particular stitch pattern (plus stitches needed for a border) and changing the the number of stitches cast on.
And, in the end, a little steam (holding a steam iron close above a finished cloth) and giving a little tug here and there will make any dishcloth look a bit better than when it first comes off the needles.

I'm sure this is all more than anyone wanted to know about what I've learned knitting dishcloths.  But I hope, if you like your cloths larger (or even smaller) than I like them, that I've offered some helpful information to give you ideas for how to adapt a pattern to whatever size you like in a cloth, and according to what yarn and needles you use.

Happy Knitting!

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Celtic Weave Infinity Scarf...

Last week saw the finish of my Celtic Weave Infinity Scarf:

Because I used worsted weight yarn, I made the middle of my scarf narrower than the original scarf  - which was done in fingering weight yarn.  The stitch pattern for the center panel of this scarf requires a starting chain of a count divisible by 4 +3.  While the stitch pattern took some concentration at the beginning and ending of rows, it did finally become intuitive for me, and at that point it didn't take too long to finish.  But I will admit, there was a fair amount of ripping back and redoing until that happened.

Fingering weight yarn appears to make a lovely drapey scarf while worsted weight yarn made a chunky, toasty one.  😊


Since it's the first day of autumn when posting this, and I'm realizing I haven't taken a picture of dishcloths knitted since late June, I snapped a quick shot of all the cloths I knitted this summer:

Not very many, but they are certainly colorful!  😃

And that, dear reader, is all she wrote!   

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

House projects begin...

Converting one of our now-empty bedrooms into DH's "study" is what's on the docket at the moment.  This is what it looked like yesterday after he taped it up to paint all the trim:

Before anyone gets excited, I will say upfront we're kind of boring when it comes to paint.  We're all in for beige.  I've actually picked out different shades of beige in different brands of paint, used in different houses, and I've ended up with the same basic beige color. Rather than fight it, I've decided to own it.  I've dubbed our basic wall (and trim) color, Beige-a-vu.  And while it may be boring, we rock it!  😉  

Husband is doing most of the painting (for which I am truly grateful).  I was involved in painting many rooms in this house over the first decade of living here (following the stripping of much wallpaper 😣).  Two decades in now, the thought of repainting them nearly does me in.  Physically, mentally, emotionally...   I was all for hiring it done this time around, but DH decided he would tackle it.  In this room, anyway.  

And without major involvement by me. 😗

In between various commitments that got me out of the house this past week, I kept myself busy picking out the carpet for the above room, shampooing the carpet in the family room (that's now drying and awaiting new furniture), and doing some general deep cleaning.  

BTW, this might be a good place to mention that I'm not really sure what "sharing these projects" here is supposed to look like.  Except for painting, I'm realizing our house "projects" are going to mainly consist of decluttering, organizing, and decorating.  

Except for some sorely needed furniture, I'm pretty committed to using what we have to decorate with, and finding frugal sources for items that are new.  While I can imagine the appeal of seeing how someone else does this, I'm suddenly realizing that sharing my decorating feels kind of vulnerable.  Funny that.  It never occurred to me until I started trying to imagine what to take pictures of.  And what might be interesting.  For example, I just deep cleaned and decorated (for fall) a little half-bath that makes me really happy at the moment, but a picture of it seems kind of...  I don't know...  weird?  Yes. Weird.  

And there's the issue of different tastes and styles. I wish I could honestly say I'm a minimalist (oh, how I wish), or that I had a "style",  but I'm mostly an eclectic life-time accumulator of stuff - most of which wasn't hand-picked by either of us.  So much of my "stuff" isn't even stuff that has great meaning to me.  Some does, but mostly... not. 

There are also rooms in our home that we are simply not going to spend the money redoing. Some rooms are so old and dated, they deserve a truly thoughtful approach to bringing them into the 21st century.  We're just not the ones who are going to do that right now.

So...  again...  I'm not sure what it may look like to share these projects here.  But I kind of hope I can give little glimpses into our home as we clean up, clear out, and make nicer - for however longer we may live here.


BTW, one of the activities I did this past week was go to an author talk/book signing - less than a mile from home.  The author was Susan Wiggs, and the first 100 registrants received a copy of her newest book, The Oysterville Sewing Circle.  I didn't get a free book, but it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour last Thursday evening.  I'd honestly, never before heard of this author (which, I'm sure is only an indication of how big the rock is I live under), but now I'm intrigued to check out her books.  Our county library is really good about scheduling author visits.  I've gone to a few - most of them small with local authors.  I'm thinking I might broaden my horizons and check them out more often.


And finally... not having worked with hook or needles all week, and suddenly feeling nearly desperate to start a small and quick doily yesterday, I set about to find my 99 Little Doilies book.  But find it, I could not.  It's not entirely my fault.  DH has temporarily dumped window valances and spare painting supplies in my "yarn room".   That's the excuse I'm using this week, anyway.  

So, what's a person to do?  If your first thought was that I picked up my Sacred Space blanket and started crocheting on it again, you would be wrong.  No... instead, I finally decided to start crocheting a scarf I've had in queue for making since April.

The stitch pattern is called Celtic Weave, and Bonnie Barker has provided a video tutorial for making this particular scarf.  This is all I've managed to do since starting it yesterday:

This is supposed to be an infinity scarf, so the wonky edge there at the bottom, I guess, gets resolved when I join the two ends.  The back side of this isn't very attractive so I don't know, for sure, how this works since wearing an infinity scarf involves twisting it around one's neck and exposing both sides.  So we'll see...

And that's pretty much it!  
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Sunday, September 8, 2019

I love finishes...

Christmas Dazzle is done!

Pattern is found in the book, A Year of Afghans, 1998

I fussed and fussed over what kind of border to make, and finally settled on a simple linen stitch border.  

The whole look kind of makes me think of a sweater.  Hmmm...   It's too late now, but maybe I should have made a faux ribbing border (with alternating front and back post stitches).    Why did I not think of that?!?  Sigh.  

☝ Next time! 


And I found (on Amazon) what I think is a perfect frame for my little silhouette cross stitch picture:
I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out.  So SWEET!

I found the magazine that published this pattern!  This sweet little silhouette cross stitch is from Just CrossStitch Magazine, February 1992.

And that is absolutely all I touched in the crafts department this past week.


I hope to soon get back to work on my Sacred Space blanket, but we're busy here working on house stuff.  So I may or may not be YOPping much for the next few weeks.  Painting - ugh.  Getting some new carpet - whee!  And cleaning some older carpeting - will be nice when that's done.  AND soon we'll be getting some new furniture for the family room - Yippee. 

Maybe I'll YOP about these things.  
They are projects - to be sure!

And I'm still going through stuff and whittling down so much that is superfluous.  That is an on-going project.


As summer is drawing to a close (on the calendar, anyway), I wanted to snap a picture of a planting that has made me smile for the last few months:

I bought hibiscus and wave petunia plants on clearance in the late spring/early summer and planted them together on a whim.  I really didn't know how it would look together.  I'm amazed at how it all has thrived and how great the colors work with each other.   The one in the background...  not so much.  

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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Mystery revealed...

I look forward to getting back to my Sacred Space blanket soon, but this week I found myself making (and finishing) some smaller projects.  It felt good to have some finishes.

Firstly, after rescuing some colorful Yarn Bee Sugarwheel cotton yarn from the clearance shelf at the new local Hobby Lobby, I couldn't resist making something with it right away.  This Granny Square Bottom Bag fit the bill perfectly:

While I love the bright colors, I'm not all that crazy about this yarn.  
The color changes are abrupt, and there were many knots.  😕

Then I whipped up this quick and easy eyeball washcloth:

pattern is searchable online as Mad Eye Washcloth

What Harry Potter fan wouldn't think this a fun little cloth to wash dishes with? But you don't have to be a HP fan to think an eyeball washcloth is kind of cool.  😉   A few more of these will be fun stocking stuffers for my adult sons (who enjoy HP, but also anything this odd/cool/fun).


And lastly...  While I haven't figured out just what frame will suit this best, my little mystery silhouette cross stitch picture got finished yesterday:

My original thought was this would be nice to save for gifting to a young girl someday, but I like it so much I think I will frame it and display it on a shelf here.  It's very small - right at about 4 x 6 inches.  Which makes it even sweeter.  😊

I will say... this sweet little picture wasn't as simple as I thought it would be, but it was worth sticking with it, which included some ripping out and restitching in a few places.  I wish I could tell you who the designer is, and what my source was, but that would be a challenge since I made a working photo copy and then filed (i.e. stacked) the magazine with dozens of others without noting which one it was published in.  I'm pretty sure it's from a vintage Just Cross Stitching magazine (possibly from the 1980's), but that's the best I can do at the moment.  

Thank you all who played along with my mystery cross stitch guessing game.  I enjoyed the guesses.  While some could see the flowers a few weeks ago, the only ones who guessed right on my last update were Liz of Highland Heffalump Sharon (of Zanna's Homemade).  Good eyes, ladies!  

With these finishes, I think it may feel really satisfying now to work on my larger projects again.  😄

I hope everyone has a good week!

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