Knitting Pattern: Linen Stitch Dish Cloth

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I have had some requests for my linen stitch dish cloth pattern, so I thought it would be nice to share it.  It really is just a square of linen stitch, but I certainly can share specifically how I make mine.

 

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For functional dish cloths, it is generally best to use cotton yarn, but you could use cotton blends like cotton/acrylic, cotton/bamboo or cotton/linen.  If you want the look that I get with my cloths, choose a variegated yarn (a yarn with a combination of mixed colors).  This is the easiest way to achieve a confetti-like, multicolored cloth.  The pattern will distribute the colors throughout the cloth, preventing pooling of color which often has a splotchy appearance.

If you like working with colors, you can alternate three solid colors while following the pattern.  This will be a little more work since you will need to carry your yarns neatly up one side, and keep track of your colors, but it will also give a multicolored, confetti-like appearance to the cloth.

If you wish to get even more creative, you can try a self-striping yarn with this pattern, or knit yourself or a new neighbor a lovely set in a single, solid color, or coordinating solid colors.  The pattern is very versatile.

I use worsted weight cotton for my cloths.  Examples you might choose include:

  • Peaches and Creme cotton yarn
  • Bernat Handicrafter cotton
  • Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton
  • Knit Picks Dishie
  • Sugar ‘n Cream cotton

It’s also worth noting that Knit Picks CotLin is a cotton/linen blend that makes great dish cloths and towels, but it is DK weight (a lighter weight than worsted) so you will need to adjust your needle size.  Knit Picks recommends knitting needle size #5 or #6 for CotLin.

 

The pattern:  Linen Stitch Dish Cloth

Dimensions:  Approximately 9 by 10 inches

Yarn:  Worsted weight cotton

Needles:  Straight knitting needles, size #7

 

Cast on 40 stitches.  I use a long tail cast on.

Row 1:  *knit 1, slip 1 stitch with yarn held in front;  repeat from *        (row ends with a slipped stitch)

Row 2:  *purl 1, slip 1 stitch with yarn held in back;  repeat from *        (row ends with a slipped stitch)

For all slipped stitches, always slip purlwise (slip as if to purl).

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for a total of 100 rows.  Ending with row 2, bind off knitwise.  Block lightly.

 

The linen stitch is knit over any even number of stitches, so you can adjust the pattern for size/dimensions if you prefer a larger or smaller cloth, or you want to make towels. 

If you are a tight knitter, you might consider using size #8 needles to avoid a stiff and curly cloth.  If you knit very loosely, try needle size #6.  Gauge doesn’t matter so much with this pattern, but making your stitches too loose or too tight will affect the quality of your cloth.

 

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There you have it:  linen stitch dish cloths the Kristenisms way!  I’m happy to answer questions if anything is unclear.

~Happy knitting!

 

 

 

Better Late than Never: Lake County Fair 2013

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I decided that if I don’t post about last year’s Lake County Fair right now, I probably never will.  It’s nearly the 2014 fair season already, and there is only so much time left for procrastination!

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This was my second year participating in this fair, and I really enjoy it because there are always so many entries.

In 2013, I entered a hat, socks, a shawl, a scarf (all knitted) and a crocheted pot holder.  I was excited about the pot holder because it was the first crocheted item I had ever entered into a fair.  I have been crocheting since I was a little kid, but I prefer the appearance of knitted objects, so I don’t do a lot of crochet these days.

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My entry took 2nd place, earning me my first ribbon for crochet (red ribbon in photo above).  Personally, I loved the blue chicken (see photo above) which – oddly – didn’t place at all. 

I made a partner for my pot holder for entry into the Will County Fair later in the summer, and the set took first place.

The hat I chose to enter was the Butterfly Beanie (seen with blue ribbon below):

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I entered my Red Maple socks:

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I entered my Cladonia shawl:

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After being a little disappointed that I didn’t take any first place ribbons in 2012, I was pleased to have won blue ribbons (first place) in knit socks, knit hats and knit shawls this time. 

The scarf division was huge in 2013.  I think that there was likely somewhere around 30 entries.  I entered my Painted Cables Scarf (a previous first place winner at the Will County Fair), and it did not place.

Here are some of the scarf entries (my entry can be seen at the far upper right of the photo):

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The following photos show projects entered by other participants (meaning, none of them were made by me).

More scarves:

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I love to see all of the afghans that have been entered.  Here are some of my favorites:

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Here was the Sweepstakes Rosette winner:

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My favorite entry in the fair had to be this crazy, crocheted, ruffle pillow.  This thing was HUGE!  It was something like three feet in diameter.  It took a second place ribbon.

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There you have it:  my 2013 Lake County Fair experience.  Now I can look forward to this year’s fair season.

~Happy knitting!

FO: On The Road Shawl

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This is my completed On The Road shawl.  The pattern is somewhat new, designed by Janina Kallio.  I really love two-color shawls, and this is the second on that I have knit.  The first one was the Cladonia shawl knit in Madelintosh Tosh Sport.  Since the Madelintosh worked so well on Cladonia, I decided to use it on this shawl as well.  I am happy with the results, and the yarn is so soft!

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For this shawl, I used Madelintosh Light in the colorways Norway Spruce and Composition Book Gray.  I was lucky enough to have both in my stash, purchased years ago for the purpose of another two-color shawl.  I knit the pattern with size 4 needles, and I kept my knitting loose.

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I mentioned in the last post that this shawl knit up really small and kind of narrow, like a scarf or shawlette.  Once blocked, though, it opened up into a really light, lacy, breezy (and large) shawl.

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~Happy knitting!

Finishing Line

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In the past 2 weeks, I finished a shawl, a pair of socks and a winter scarf.  I mentioned in my last post that I completed the On The Road shawl and it has been blocking all week:

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I was worried/disappointed with how small and scarf-like it had knit up, and I was already considering it somewhat of a failure until I blocked it.  I was so hoping this would happen!  As you can see, once soaked and pinned out, the lace opened up and the shawl is HUGE.  It’s over 5 feet long, and it looks really great.  The finished shawl will be the subject of my next post.

I have been in a mood lately to finish projects that have been left incomplete.  Generally I have lots of knitting projects in hibernation, but I nearly always pick them back up, sometimes years later, and finish them. 

I was working on this the week before last:

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I started this Leaf Scarf in Cascade 220 back in 2012.  The pattern is from the book 60 Quick Knits, which is full of great projects. 

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After knitting about 50% of it, this scarf sat for a few years.   I recently needed a mindless, nighttime knitting project, so I pulled it back out and completed it last weekend. 

 

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The scarf is unblocked in these photos.  I just unpinned the On The Road shawl this morning, so I can block this scarf today.  I am happy with how it turned out.  I love the yarn, and I plan to keep this scarf for myself.

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Up next in my ‘finishing line’ was pair of socks (I forgot to take photos of them this morning) that I started several months ago (I think last winter, but who really knows) and then picked back up and finished last weekend. 

It’s a pair that I made from some commercial sock yarn I bought at Hobby Lobby.  I ended up making two pairs of socks from that yarn.  I never posted about the first pair, although I did wear them this past winter (the socks are washable wool, and the winter was outrageously cold).  I will include photos of both pairs (and tell you why there are two) in an upcoming post.

I need to start thinking about knitting a pair of socks for the fairs this year, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to start anything ‘fairworthy’.  I do have a few ideas though.  I may start some mittens today, too.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Handspun Beaded Bella Cowl

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I finished knitting my On the Road shawl last night.  I have been on the last lace section for over a week.  Toward the end, each row was approaching 400 stitches, so each row took me around a half hour to knit.  I think it took me longer to finish that last little section than it did to knit the rest of the entire shawl.  It didn’t help that I was often fatigued in the evenings by the time I got to work on it.  Being aware of that problem, I made it a point to pick it up in the daytime this past weekend, and I must say that I made much more headway.

Depending on how the beginning of my day goes today, I may be weaving in ends and blocking the cowl tonight.  Wool has been taking several days to dry (after blocking) with this weather here lately, so it will be a few days before I can get some fully finished, blocked pictures of it.

In May, I knit a cowl with my MoonBound fibers handspun wool.  I had 180 yards of the yarn, so a cowl seemed like a good option.  I also considered mittens, but I think that a cowl was the right choice.

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I was a little stressed about choosing the right pattern to show off the thick and thin qualities of the yarn.  I didn’t want to hide it with a fancy pattern.  On the flip-side, the yarn was undyed, natural wool, and a plain pattern with such wool could result in a really unimpressive (boring!) finished object.

Hmmm.  What’s a girl to do with her handspun?

I considered trying my hand at dying.  I was going to use coffee, which I think may have had a pretty result.  I decided against it, though, because I was kind of in love with the fleece colored yarn.

I considered choosing a complimentary yarn to accent it in a pattern.  This might have worked too, but since this was my first hank of handspun, it was a big deal in my head, and I wanted the yarn to be the star of the finished object.  I also wanted to use every last bit of the yarn.

After much consideration (about two days’ worth), I decided that the Bella Cowl was just the right combination of simple and some lace, and would be a pattern versatile enough that I could adjust it for my special circumstance.

While deciding all of this, I kept eying some tubes of beads that I had purchased years ago, on clearance at a craft store.  One of the tubes contained small, iridescent beads in natural colors that complemented the natural merino of my handspun so nicely.  Beading the cowl could be a great way to add color and interest without taking focus away from the yarn.  It was decided!

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Now the problem was that these beads were small for such a mostly DKish weight, thick and thin yarn.  I would have to pre-string the beads on the yarn in order to use them in the pattern.  My goal was to add them to the lace rows.  This was going to difficult, and I considered many other ways of applying the beads to the lace rows before finally deciding to break the yarn (I know, gasp!) at the beginning of each lace row, apply all of the beads needed for that row (this was not easily done, and required a size 12 –  that’s 1 mm folks — crochet hook to force the beads onto short lengths of the yarn) and then graft the yarn back together using a felted join in order to continue the pattern. 

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Yes, this was a lot of work, but it was satisfying work since I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was determined to make it happen.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.  (Note the bend.)

Luckily, the wool grafted really, really well, so I was able to join the ends of the yarn back together fairly easily after my struggle to get the beads strung. 

I knitted an adjusted version of the pattern, and I had to rip out and reknit the last two sections more than once to make sure that I could finish the pattern repeat I was on without running out of yarn.  Here is the amount of yarn I had left once I finished binding off:

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I am super pleased with the size of the cowl.  It can be doubled around the neck, or worn long like a scarf.  I think the beads are just enough without taking over the design. 

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I was really surprised by the affect of the twist in the yarn on the resulting knitted fabric.  It tended to make the fabric sort of seize up, making it a little stiff, with the texture of a scrubby sponge.  I kept moving up and up and up in needle size until I found a gauge that allowed this gorgeous stuff to drape.  I started with something like a size 7, and ended up using a size 9 and knitting as loosely as I possibly could.  I really wanted a 10, but I didn’t have a circular in the length I needed on hand.  

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I’m glad I spent the time experimenting with this yarn for this cowl.  I think it will be a well-used accessory this fall/winter, and that’s what I was going for.  I wanted it to be something that I would have many occasions to wear and enjoy.

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Now off to block a shawl…

~Happy knitting!

Happy Memorial Day!

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It seems fitting that on this day, when we honor the men and women who have made it their personal business to protect our country, we take a little look back in history.

I have mentioned before on the blog that I collect vintage and antique items relating to knitting and fiber arts.  I have an impossibly large collection of antique sock stretchers, some advertisement pieces, and many old knitting books, patterns and needles. 

One of my very favorite areas of knitting history was the Knit Your Bit campaign, headed by the American Red Cross during World War I. 

In 1917, at the start of World War I, the American Red Cross put out an urgent call for people at home to knit items needed desperately by our troops at war.  Among the items requested were wool helmet liners, wristlets, gloves and sweaters.  As the war went on, it became clear that the most needed items were wool socks, and the campaign began to drive specifically for socks. 

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The campaign produced several, beautiful posters meant to inspire people at home to assist in the war effort of knitting woolen wear en mass.   Not only did women knit for the troops, but men and children also became part of the effort.  The need was such that knitting became acceptable anywhere and at any time, including in schools and at church. 

I have been on the look-out for original campaign posters for years, but it is nearly impossible to find them.  Prints abound, and reproduction copies are available all over the market.   

This weekend, while perusing vintage knitting related items on Etsy, I found (and purchased) this:

Knit for Defense Patterns Red Heart Vintage Knitting Patterns 1941 World War II Era Knits for Men Trigger Gloves Scarfs Sweaters and Socks

I was over-the-moon excited, because it appears to be an original pattern book for those knitting for the troops at war!  The date of this publication was 1941 (clearly well after WW I), which brings me to the next part of this story.

World War I ended in 1918, and people everywhere were able to return to knitting for their own personal needs again.  Two decades later, with the onset of World War II, a new campaign began.  It was known as Knit for Victory. At this time, the need for warm, woolen wear may not have been as dire as it was in the previous war, but knitting as an expression of support for our troops had been ingrained in so many that women at home again began knitting. 

This time, it was as much for the morale of those at home as it was for the pure need of warm woolens by the troops.  Even so, according to Judy Weightman (More Knitting History:  WW II)“although scrap metal was collected and melted down for the war effort, steel knitting needles were exempt, since they were considered too valuable”.    

The Knit for Defense pattern booklet that I found is from the WW II war effort.  I decided to look for more, and found (and also purchased) this one, also from the 1940′s:

Wartime knitting pattern book for our boys on the front

 

Pretty amazing, huh?  I just love owning a little bit of history that feels important to me.  I think it is wonderful that people hold on to these things after so many years.  Many were likely tossed into the trash over the decades. 

I would love to find an original war poster some day, or even an original copy of some of the patterns that the Red Cross was known to distribute for the effort in WW I.  Until then, I will just enjoy the fun of keeping an eye open for these little relics from a history that I don’t want to forget.

~Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

For more information:

See this great history link essay by Laura Becker

See print and photographs archives in the Library of Congress

See awesome knitting archives in Judy Weightman’s blog

 

MoonBound

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Last weekend, a friend of mine went to a fair in Geneva, IL to see some rare breeds of livestock that were being exhibited.  She mentioned to me that there were going to be demonstrations of sheep shearing, the preparation of fleece and the making of yarn from the fiber.  While there, she texted me this photo:

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You are looking at a whole row of hand dyed, hand spun yarn being sold at the fair!  I love this picture, ( it looks like the weather was so  great – isn’t the sunshine gorgeous?!) and I wish I could have been there to see (and feel!) all of that awesome yarn.  Interestingly, I was actually perusing the hand spun yarn on Etsy that very same morning. 

Since she knows about my yarn addiction, my friend, who is also one of my coworkers, surprised me at work on Monday morning with this:

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It’s my very own hank of hand spun, natural merino wool yarn!  This is actually the first hand spun yarn that I have ever owned, so it was super exciting for me.  The vendor who was selling the yarn is a woman named Julia, and she is the proprietor of MoonBound Artisan Shop.   You can click on this link to see her blog.   She also has an Etsy shop where she sells her yarn. 

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The yarn has a nice twist to it, and I can’t believe how soft it is for 100% merino wool.  I have actually already finished the project that I decided to make with this yarn.  I literally couldn’t wait, although I did agonize a bit over what pattern would be worthy of such yarn.   I still have a few bugs to work out before I can blog about it, but details are coming soon!

Since I got a bit side-tracked by awesome, surprise, hand-spun wool, I took a break from my On The Road shawl this week.  I really should have finished it last weekend, but now that I’m into the really LONG rows at the end of the shawl, the monotony has started to get to me.  I’m also a little concerned that is seems small – more like a shawlette - and that has dampened my enthusiasm to finish it a little bit.  The size normally wouldn’t matter at all except that I was hoping to make this shawl my entry for the county fairs this summer, in which case, it needs to be a shawl and not a shawlette. 

Here’s my progress so far:

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The shape is really wide, but not very long, so it reminds me of a scarf with tapered ends more than a shawl.  I was thinking that I would just add another repeat of the green and gray to add length, but it doesn’t appear that I will have enough of the green yarn to do so.  I’m currently on the last two stripes, so I plan to add in a few more rows within each stripe to increase the length at least a little bit.  I’m hoping my plan won’t interfere with the symmetry of the pattern too much. 

Then again, the shawl may also look completely different after I block it out, and I’m hoping that may also help with the length.

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In other news, the weather is finally getting warmer here.  I put in this year’s ‘bunny garden’ after work one day last week.  I planted lots of herbs and greens for my pet rabbit Pinot to eat and enjoy.  I did this last year for her, and it worked out great!  Once the plants took off, I didn’t have to buy greens for her for nearly three months!  And the fresh picked veggies are so much healthier for her.

Since this will be a long weekend for Memorial Day, I’m hoping to complete some of these open ended knitting projects.  In my way is some orange, cotton, sock yarn that is in a bag hanging from my bedroom door handle.  It has been calling my name, so I can’t guarantee that this weekend’s knitting will not be the start of yet another project instead of the completion of many already on the needles.  We’ll see how much self control I have….

~Happy knitting!

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