Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Beach Cloths...

Wow, I have been so busy this Summer and it's been taking much longer then I had hoped to get all these cloths out. We're still waiting to move as well. Bad experiences with bad contractors have caused us to finish all the work on the apartment ourselves. I am so thankful for my Mother and all the babysitting she's doing. Every day we've been framing, hanging sheetrock, taping, sanding, and laying floors. It's about 70% done but there is still a lot to finish. Hopefully it will be completed by September 1st.

I wish I could just sit at home and knit these patterns up. Though I know when the dust settles there will be better organization and lots of time to wrap up these unfinished patterns. I'll keep everyone posted on what I'm working on. These Beach Cloths we're a nice distraction from all of the construction and headaches I've been having lately.

This pattern is available as a PDF download and priced at $3.25. There are eight cloth patterns in this set. You can purchase this pattern if you are a Ravelry member by clicking the "Buy Now" button below the pictures. The Beach Cloths are also available in my Pattern Store here as a Ravelry Download. There are 5 pages total and the download is sized at 4.4MB. If you have any questions about the pattern or payment options, please feel free to contact me via email at or on Ravelry: KristenKnits.

Lily's Sugar'n Cream Solid:

Binkini - 01740 Hot Pink (Pink)
Sand Castle - 00082: Jute (Tan)
Boat - 00083: Cornflower Blue (Blue)
Seahorse - 00046: Rose PInk (Pink)
Palm Tree - 00084: Sage Green (Green)
Sea Shell - 01004: Soft Ecru (Off White)

Peaches & Cream Solid

Shovel & Pail - 11 Sunburst
Fish - 56 Light Green

You don't need a Ravelry account to purchase the pattern. Ravelry will re-direct you to paypal and will email you a link to download the pattern.

I made each written pattern with a corresponding chart for the dishcloth. From the sets that I've already made, I've managed to get about 2-2½ cloths out of one ball of Lily's Sugar'n Cream Solid Yarn. Though you can use any kitchen cotton you prefer.

I really need to blog more frequently, I just need to make the time. There are so many pictures to put up and the kids are getting so big. I wish someone could be here to nudge me to do it. I'm almost at the point where I need an assistant. :0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dishcloth Q & A...

I've received a lot of emails this year on ways to make my dishcloths and other cloth patterns the best they can be. I figured an easy way to help everyone out was to write up a list of frequently asked questions and add some tips and tricks. Please forgive me if I leave something out. If you have another question, leave a comment on this post and I will add it to the entry.

1. "My dishcloths aren't popping the way they should. Is there anything I can do?"

Yes! There are a lot of different ways to make sure that your cloths look the best. I'm going to go over the basics in this post to ensure that the finished cloth looks great for both gift giving and regular use.

2. "Should I really be using a US size 3 needle?"

Yes and no. It depends on how tight or loose you knit. I knit continental and always use a size 3 needle. I invested in a pair of addi turbos last year for my dishcloth knitting and designing. It was the best decision I made. With the addi's my hands won't hurt and my knitting is faster and significantly more even producing a better defined cloth. If you find that you are unable to knit with a smaller needle or don't have one available, you can use a different size and get a well defined cloth as long as your knitting is very even.

3. "The picture on the cloth is hard to see. I think my knitting is uneven, what can I do?"

If your seeing gaps in between the rows on the wrong or right side of your cloth you might be "rowing out". It's a common problem that affects many knitters. It is most obvious in stockinette or reverse stockinette and is caused when there is a different amount of tension on the yarn while knitting a stitch than while purling a stitch. The fastest way you can correct this problem is to use a different size needle for the knit rows and the purl rows. It may take some time to figure out which two to use though. People generally knit slightly tighter than they purl, but It could be the other way around. You might want to try tightening your stitches on one side or the other to see if there is an improvement. Blocking can also help equalize the tension in the stitches. It might be a few wash and dry sessions before the cloth is completely smooth in the stockinette areas.

I also try to knit an entire cloth in one sitting. I find that if I start and stop a cloth too many times that the stitches pull slightly on the needle for that particular row and create some unevenness when picked back up again. I move my knitting around so much because of the kids. Though I'm sure if it just sat still for awhile there wouldn't be too much of a tension problem.

4. What are the best colors and yarn to use for your dishcloths?"

I tend to use any cotton yarn I have around the house. It's kinda scary exactly how much I have stashed. I should take a picture to show you one of these days. You can use acrylic yarns as well but they are not as absorbent and could scratch some surfaces if you don't pay attention. Wool will obviously pill and felt if washed with hot water.

When it comes to colors your going to see the best results on a medium shade. Very light and dark colors may only show in the right light. Generally with dishcloths or any other picture design if light is directly overhead the picture may be hard to see unless your knitting is very even and the cloth is blocked after use.

5. How do you block your dishcloths?"

After I finish knitting my cloths I weave in all the ends and then soak them in warm water stretching the cloth slightly under the water to even out any tension problems. Then lightly ring out the water trying not to distort the shape too much. I tend to lay the cloths out on my counter top to dry shaping them into squares and pushing down all of the stockinette areas so that the purl bumps stand up. This makes a huge difference! There is no need to pin them and they dry in about an evening. I've only blocked the cloths I keep once or twice and then they go into the washer and dryer with the towels. they come out great every time!

6. What is the best way to photograph the finished cloths?"

After the cloths are blocked and dry I use natural light to my advantage to show the best picture. I will arrange them in front of a sunny window out of direct light. I like to photograph on sunny days to show colors in their true form. Not an easy thing with all of that rain we've been having. You can also use light from a lamp. Just be sure that the light is shining down on an angle from top to bottom to show the shaded areas from the purl bumps. Try to avoid using a flash because this can diffuse the stitch definition of knit and purl stitches.

I always try to take pictures in the morning, around 10am with light shining in from a south window. The later in the day it is, the more likely your colors may come out darker.

A few other things:

  • Fact: The more use a cloth gets the more the design will "pop" over time.
  • I actually do use the cloths I make for my kitchen and bathroom. The kids love to play with them in the bathtub and in the backyard. I don't manage to keep many sets though. I always have a reason to gift them.
  • I use a Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera to photograph all of my cloths.
  • I find most of my colors in A.C.Moore but I do frequent Michael's and Walmart as well. Sometimes a LYS will have a discontinued color and I'll quickly grab it. You can find most colors online or try the trade or sell feature on Ravelry to see if you can snag a deal.
  • I design and love every bit of my cloths from drawing up a chart to writing the pattern to knitting, editing the pictures and graphically designing the pdf files from scratch in Adobe Photoshop. Every cloth and pattern is an original design.
  • There are about 5 or 6 more sets for this year that I'm currently working on and of course, I'm really enjoying them.

I'm sure I forgot a few things but I didn't want to wait any longer to write this up and share some of the questions I get. Again if you have any other questions leave a comment and I'll answer it the best I can.

The Beach Cloths are almost done. Hopefully by the end of the week! I'm also working on a cute little non-dishcloth pattern for everyone.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Bit of Sun and Chalk...

The weather we've been having may be making us all a little blue, but we're still finding some time to get out and enjoy the warmth. The kids and I played with chalk for a few hours the other day when the sun decided to show his face and dry up the backyard. They both helped me color this little masterpiece.

I have lots of things to post, but not enough time to pull the pictures and words together. I'm sure this happens to a lot of Mom-bloggers. I sometimes find myself writing posts in my head about things that I would love to share. Of course, I never write them down and get stuck at the computer screen as always. Tomorrow, I'll post up another entry about the dishcloths and hope that it helps some of you who may not be getting the best stitch definition.