23 January 2013

Knitting - small and useful projects

Thank you for all the kind and encouraging comments yesterday. It seems that what I thought is a localised drought is being felt world-wide.

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I haven't had a lot of time for knitting lately but every time I sit down, there I am, clicking away. Knitting is such a pleasure for me because I make household cloths I can't buy, make gifts that are unique and it gives me something to do when I sit down, so I feel productive. Knitting isn't something I make time for as a craft, I see it as part of my day-to-day housework, so I knit most days. I use the beautiful yarns from Vivian at Eco Yarns. Their organic cotton is the best I've ever worked with. I'm also using her super fine merino in fingering weight and NZ royal lambs wool for a scarf and matching arm warmers for my sister Tricia. It was her birthday on Saturday so when she arrived here yesterday afternoon, I had a nice little parcel for her.

This top dishcloth is bamboo, the bottom two are pure cotton. All were made using the end pieces and scraps from my yarn stash.

I went through my yarn stash over Christmas and pulled out all the odd and ends. I'm using all of them in the coming weeks to knit up another set of dishcloths. I'd like another 10 so I can retire some of the older ones. When I first started off on the dishcloths, I always used 8ply pure cotton, now I prefer a lighter cloth for washing up. I've knitted up a few of the bamboo scraps and they make a light and useful cloth. They're very soft, fit easily into wine glasses and small sippy cups and they dry out quickly. I've also done a couple of 4 ply cloths on large needles. Using only plain stitch, I get through one in a couple of hours. While I love the look of the fancy dishcloths, and when I give them as a gift I always do up Deb's waffle weave pattern, my own preference is a much simpler cloth. I always do my own cloths in plain garter stitch.

Tricia's pure NZ wool scarf - almost finished.

Are you a knitter? I know very many readers of my book started knitting dishcloths even before they finished the book, and wrote to tell me about it. I think dishcloths and laundry liquid were the first two projects most people tried. I certainly received a lot of mail telling me about grandmas teaching knitting years ago and now this! A welcomed return to knitting via the dishcloth. To me, dishcloths and aprons are symbols of this way of life. They're homemade, simple and part of every productive home. Making a dishcloth is a great way to start knitting. If you can pick up some knitting cotton for a reasonable price, all you need is a pair of needles, the size doesn't really matter because what you're making doesn't have to fit anyone. If you want a tight weave, choose fine needles if you're after a loose weave, choose thicker needles. You could make a beautiful gift for a new baby by making a simple set of organic cotton wash cloths. Knitted or crocheted, what could be better than a set of organic cloths and gentle, nourishing homemade soap. For that the ideal cotton would be Eco Yarn's organic cotton.

Lion's organic cotton made up into a little scarf and held together with half a vintage knitting needle with a  beehive tip.

If you get the knitting bug, see if you can find some thick organic cotton like Lion's Organic. I've made Tricia a couple of cotton neck warmers for winter. She lives in Blackheath and although she loves the cold weather, like I do, she and I both feel uncomfortable if we have cold necks or hands. Enter the homemade scarf and arm warmers. She can wear these in winter and remain warm during the day without lighting the fire. You can make a scarf by casting on as you would for a dishcloth, then knit plain stitch for every row - that's garter stitch. When you can wind it around your neck loosely a couple of times, cast off and sew both ends together. Or, even more simply, when it's long enough to go around your neck once, add a bit more for a twist, then cast off. You'll get a nice looking cowl scarf without having to master the mobius twist.

The wonderful thing about knitting is that you can make useful and beautiful pieces quite soon after you start. All the knitting on this page is very basic, yet it's all useful and will keep the wearers warm or the dishes clean for many years. Start off with simple practical projects and after you develop your skills, move on to more complicated patterns. If, like me, you end up loving the feeling of twisting and turning yarn with sticks you'll always have something to do because when you're a knitter there are always new patterns to be discovered and all those dish cloths to knit.

What's on your needles right now?

Eco Yarn blog - lots of great posts and photos about knitting and some patterns.
At the D2E forum we have a very popular thread to showcase finished knitting projects.
Ravelry - online knitting and crochet community
Eastern European knitting
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