Sunday, September 9, 2007

Knitting Dishcloths

I thought that I wouldn't like to use a knit or crochet dishcloth. I thought that they would be too bulky to wash the dishes with, take too long to dry and in general be a pain to use. My hands hurt and cramp enough with a light-weight terry cloth dishcloth that the idea of using a bulky knit or crochet one was just dismissed out of hand as being too painful to bother with using. And why make an item that I wouldn't use?

This past week, I had invited the missionaries from my church to come over for dinner. We had a nice dinner prepared by my 15 yo old son. We listened to a talk on CD on the folly of trying to be perfect and the wisdom of doing your best, then realizing that if you've done your best, that's all you can do. We also just visited with each other. A nice time was had by all. The next day, they stopped by and dropped off a crochet dishcloth that Sister Burt had made.

There had been a lot of discussion on Rhonda Jean's blog "Down--to--earth" about knit dishcloths and people were singing their praises. They had even had a dishcloth swap. So I decided, what-the-heck, I'll try out my gift.

Far from being bulky and making my hands ache, it was a joy to use. It cleaned well and my hands didn't cramp like they do when I use a terry cloth dishcloth. Also, it dried more quickly than my cheap terry cloth ones do. I just hang mine over the edge of the sink to dry. I was really amazed.

About 5 or more years ago, I discovered that crocheting, which I had been doing for some 30 years was causing cramping and fatigue in my hands. So I retaught myself how to knit.

When I was about 10, my mom taught me how to knit. But my tension was SO tight, that I couldn't get the needle to go through the stitches very easily. I ended up with a sore finger-tip from forcing the needle through the bottom stitch. So I gave it up as something I "couldn't" do.

Some 9 years later, I had a friend teach me how to crochet, learned about controlling tension, and how to read a pattern.

I'm a person who likes to get through a project quickly, so most of my projects were and are simpler ones. Hats, mittens, scarves, doilies, etc.

Time moved on and I finally realized that my hands were hurting enough that it was no longer fun to crochet. But I still liked busy work. Something to keep my hands busy, so I didn't start snacking. Something that didn't cost a lot and that would leave me with something useful.

So I thought I'd retry knitting. I really needed some gloves, not mittens, and those patterns that I had available were all for knitting gloves. I was even able to find a glove pattern that doesn't require double-pointed needles to make. So off I went to get supplies.

A friend suggested that this time around, I try using circular needles. You can use circular needles without knitting in the round. All you have to do is, when you get to the end of the row, turn the needles around just as if you were using the straight kind. I find I like these MUCH better than the straight kind! They fit differently in my hand, the stitches don't seem to want to slip off the ends as easily, so I'm not dropping stitches and I like the fact that they want to curl up - it makes them easier to store. I did have to learn how to slightly twist the needles to uncoil them so they wouldn't be fighting me while I was actually knitting, but mostly that's not a problem. And when it is, it's obvious when you try to knit the first stitch and so it's easily remedied - just twist the needle with the stitches on it and it will unkink the connecting needle.

I've learned not to grip the yarn so tightly or pull too tightly on it. If I'm knitting two together (k2t), I've learned that after I've done that, I need to pull up just a little on the last loop I made, so that when I knit across it on the way back, the loop isn't too tight to allow the needle to pass into it. I've learned that at the end of a row, I need to tighten the stitch just a little to keep that last stitch from being too "loopy" and that when I then turn and restitch in it, to hold a bit of tension on it. The next stitches will all be done a little more loosely. If I do these things, my finished project will have uniform tension on it and will look good - provided I don't bungle the pattern. lol

Friday, I stopped by Wally world and picked up some 100% cotton yarn to make some dishcloths with. It cost me $1.27 for each 50gm ball. I also found a set of double-pointed needles - something that in 5 years I haven't been able to find locally - not in the three surrounding counties where I live.

I made two different patterns, using a size 10 (6.00mm) circular needles. (The diagonal pattern called for a 9-10 1/2 needles, 5.50-6.50mm)

The first pattern, done on the diagonal, is where you start knitting with 4 stitches, and do an increase each row (k2, yo, knit to end) until you have 40 stitches (50 for a washcloth), then you do a decrease each row(k1, k2t, yo, k2t, knit to end) until you're back to 4 stitches, then bind off. This pattern has an edge, then a small hole and then the rest of it has a garter stitch. The holes are small and decorative. The garter stitch gives it a textured surface to help remove food and grease from the dishes. This is a very easy pattern and didn't take too much yarn. In fact, I would have been able to get 3 dishcloths out of one ball if I hadn't need to use some of one ball with the other color. Also, it only takes about 2 hours from start to finish.

My second pattern was one I just made up in my head. I cast on about 40 stitches and did a garter stitch (k each row) until it was a square. Bind off and you're done. I used a yellow variegated yarn and ended up with a dishcloth that was only a row in one direction and about 2 stitches in the other direction bigger than the cloth done on the diagonal. I had more of the yellow, but decided that I'd go back to the diagonal style - I could see that it used less yarn. I was almost finished with the cloth, I think I had about 12-15 stitches left to go before I bound off 4, when I ran out of the yellow, so I just tied on the blue I used for the other cloth.

It turned out rather cute. I have a triangle of blue on top of the yellow. All I have to do is embroider eyes, nose and a mouth and I have a person wearing a hat. I'm not going to bother, but this is one way to make a face, especially a clown face! I'll keep that in the back of my mind. It would make a cute gift for a child.

I was able to get 1 3/4 cloths from the variegated yellow.

I learned that some patterns will use a great deal more yarn than others for the same size and density cloth. Since my money is at a premium, I'm probably going to stick to the diagonal pattern.

1 comment:

Sharon J said...

I've just found your blog so am having a scout around. I used knitted dishclothes for the first time when my eldest daughter (she's 21) made a couple for me; I've since been hooked.

I've also found that people tend to turn their noses up at the idea of them but then change their minds once they've actually used one and thus they make great gifts even for those you think might not want one ;-)

Sharon J