Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kitchen kloth in heavy single crochet

The handiest thing I like in a kitchen is a small bit of fabric that can pass for a dishcloth, light potholder, or sponge. Not too big -- about 8 inches across means it is small enough to squeeze out with one hand but also big enough and solid enough to use for just about anything, even a light hot mat or coaster for under my teapot. It needs to be made out of cotton, to be absorbent.

But the real trick is the pattern stitch.

Single crochet by itself will stretch out of shape and become all lacy over time. Any bigger stitch will have bigger spaces between the stitches. I want a solid fabric. But I don’t want it to be too thick and solid -- I’m not trying to make wall board.

This is where heavy single crochet can come into play: This is like a fabric of single crochet with chain stitches thrown in. The chain stitch keeps the single crochet from stretching out of shape -- chain stitch is often used to lock in a stitch (like in Cluster stitch).

This can work over any number of stitches, but for the sake of these instructions, start with an even number. Here is the base row: Ch1 to turn, *sc1 in next two stitches, ch1. Repeat from * across, ending with 2 sc.

As usual in crochet, this stitch has you inserting the hook under the top two loops of the stitches in the previous row.

In the next row, ch1 to turn. *Sc1, ch1 but do NOT skip 1, sc1 in the very next sc, skip the ch of the pr r. Repeat from * across, ending with ch1, sc1.

Notice that you are making a ch in between the 2sc of the previous row and skipping the ch1‘s.

In the next row, ch1 to turn. *Sc1, skip the ch of the pr r, sc1, ch1 but do not skip 1. Repeat from * across, ending with sc1, sk the ch, sc1.

Notice that the chain stitches are squished between the single crochets, adding bulk, and it’s all basically a single crochet fabric. And yet, if you stretch it, the single crochet stitches hold their shape very nicely.

Repeat the last two rows for the pattern stitch. The number of stitches should stay the same in every row. This makes a satisfying fabric for a dishcloth. For the sample pictured here, I used a worsted weight cotton (like Sugar and Cream) and a size I/5.5 mm hook. My gauge came out to about 3 stitches per inch -- so starting with Ch24 works well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Re-orienting a bit

Time flies when stuff happens. Job, moving, more moving, and barely time to knit or crochet at all, let alone write about it. And suddenly it's been a month and a half since the last entry.

It is really a comfort to settle into a place where I can see how much yarn I really have -- this may be frightening to those around me, but they get used to it ... eventually.

With the turmoil in the economy, let alone the environment, I feel extra incentive to focus on my stitching. Low tech has so many advantages:
  • as a way to make useful things without using fossil fuels (aside from having driven to the store some years ago to buy the yarn),
  • as a way of slowing down long enough to relax a bit and think about stuff,
  • as a way of keeping my hands busy long enough so my mouth can think about what it's saying,
  • as a way of focusing my brain on a single, solvable puzzle to de-fuzz my thinking.

So much of what I see around me is crisis-oriented. True, we may be living in a time of crisis (between regional conflicts, the economy, and the environment), but I wonder how much of the crisis mentality has to be promoted by the media in order to get market share. So I turn the tv off and stitch in another room.

As I head into the holiday season (already!?) I feel resolved to step away from the whirlwind so I can get a few things done and have something real to offer.