Friday, January 22, 2010

Finishing the Hand Towel, Another Afghan Down

I am enjoying the feeling of making art. More and more people approach me with only vague descriptions of what they would like: a dark helmet hat appropriate for a man; a pink/purple/white afghan that isn't acrylic; a pastel scarf. This is followed by the question "Can you make that?" I always say "Yes, I can." (a) I need the money. (b) I love a challenge. (c) I don't worry about the skills, because I have enough experience and references to teach myself what I don't already know. (d) I can't resist!

Here are the latest: the green St. Paddy's Day hand towel that I started in the hand towel tutorial, and the above-mentioned afghan. Top photo is the towel, with a duplicate knit four-leaf clover. The three-stitch seed stitch border was continued to the bottom, and the towel was finished with three rows of seed stitch before binding off. The duplicate knit clover was an easy unplanned addition, but I can publish a chart if desired. Bottom is the full view of the afghan, one strip of each color, all knitted, with a crochet strip between the strips and around the circumference. The rose strip is double moss stitch. The violet is stockinette with groupings of garter stitch. The white has columns of stockinette alternating with reverse stockinette, separated by short groups of garter stitch. Between the rectangular strips I crocheted. After creating a row of double crochet on either side, I joined the tops of those rows with slip stitch. That made a rounded elevation the length of the seam, a nice textural element in addition to the stitchwork. The second and third photos show these seams. The fourth photograph shows the edge trim, which is single crochet rows of white, then pink, then violet. Overall the piece measures about 41 x 51 inches. It is Southwest Trading Company Beyond Bold (pink and violet) and Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (cream).
On to the next!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Almost Too Tired to Knit

When I awakened today nothing hurt. Right now, the hurt is not the point. That's not the hallmark of my flares. I've been noting flare symptoms for a few weeks, and denying them to myself, but the lupus has pulled out the heavy guns. I am tired. It's difficult to explain the fatigue from this disease. I am incredibly tired, sometimes suddenly, and without the ability to override it. Today I sat on my bed and played Scrabble on the computer for a couple hours, and sat and watched old Law and Order episodes for a few more. I did very little knitting. I was kind of limp and bleh and it seemed like it would take superhuman strength to lift my needles. This afternoon I tried to jumpstart my energy organ (which is that? spleen? thymus? appendix?) by drinking a cup of coffee and taking a second Rhodiola rosea. It worked enough for me to fix a simple dinner (scrambled eggs) and read a few articles. Now I think I can knit. I'm not going to be like this for long. Treatment is scheduled before the end of the month.

At some point this evening my television viewing changed from Law and Order to Bones. I watched several episodes before the eggs and another during. Neither brain nor stomach grumbled about the viewing of numerous scenes of "gross" anatomy. Guess I have a serious case of doctor brain. You don't want to know.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Basic Knitted Hand Towels

January started with barely a pause for contemplation. My 2010 agenda is preset, and I'm on it. If last year was the year to move households, this is the year to make the business soar. I began with a handful of custom projects already ordered, and that list has grown a bit in the past week. It thrills me to have people show up for repeat business, and trust me with their special requests. A lot of faith is involved when you put your money and order in someone's hands and ask them to create something that is a one-of-a-kind.
One thing that bothers me is the list of obligations left from last year. I promised a few people patterns, and it's time to come through. These are not hard-and-fast patterns, but templates to work from to create some simple household items. I also received a request for a hat pattern, but I can't publish that one without charging for it, as it is unique and I am currently selling from it. So, here we go.
Hand Towels
I like hand towels to be approximately 16 x 20 inches, but many prefer a smaller, approximately 12 x 16 inch size. That's a convenient size for most guest use. It's large enough to dry hands effectively, but small enough for that little bar next to the sink, or to roll and place in a fancy towel basket on the counter. Some particulars that I like when making hand towels: a good washable material, like a cotton/linen blend; a design that makes a flat piece with no rolling edges; and an absence of fancy appliques that rub off or wear when one uses the towel. With those requirements in mind, I started a demonstration towel which should make approximately 12 x 16 inch towel.
Seed Stitch Border Hand Towel
Materials: pair of size 5 needles; 1 skein of Knitpicks Cotlin (70% Tanquis cotton/30% linen; 123 yd/50 g)
Cast on 60 stitches.
Row 1-3: Seed stitch. K1, P1 for first row. Rows 2 and 3, purl the knits and knit the purls. This makes a non-rolling border.

Row 4: P1, K1, P1, knit across to the last three stitches, K1, P1, K1.
Row 5: K1, P1, K1, purl across to the last three stitches, P1, K1, P1.

Continue this pattern, maintaining seed stitch border for three inches on either side, and doing stockinette stitch in between. When you reach the desired length (or within 1/2 inch of it), change to seed stitch for three rows, then bind off in pattern.
This creates a very simple stockinette stitch towel with a seed stitch border. I like it for towels that I wish to decorate, as I can duplicate stitch a design or picture or words over the stockinette body of the towel. If you decide to use duplicate stitch for a pattern, keep in mind the way the towel will fold in half to hang over a towel bar, and place your decoration centered in the lower half of the towel.

To use texture itself as decoration for your towel, try a simple box pattern.
Box Pattern Hand Towel

Materials are the same. Cast on 60 stitches.
Row 1: K6, P6 to end of row.
Row 2 and all even numbered rows: Knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.
Row 3-8: Repeat rows 1 and 2.
Row 9: P6, K6 to end of row.
Row 10 and all even numbered rows: Purl the purl stitches and knit the knit stitches.
Row 11-16: Repeat rows 9 and 10.
Continue in this sequence until towel is desired length, bind off in pattern. Sometimes I will vary this by making boxes of different sizes. The boxes above are 6 stitches x 8 rows. I might do a section with smaller boxes - 3 stitches x 4 rows, or larger boxes - 12 stitches x 16 rows, or even a mixture of different size boxes together. This makes an interesting pattern for the eye to follow.
It may seem obvious, but the simplest of hand towels can be beautiful, too.
Garter Stitch Hand Towel

Materials are the same.
Cast on 60 stitches.
Knit every row. When you reach desired length, bind off.

You get the idea. When I finish the green hand towel with the seed stitch border, I will publish a photo.
I've had questions about making wash cloths, so I will publish that next.
Since I last blogged, I've created a custom afghan. It was made from three kinds of cotton (double strand of Jo Sharp, single strand of Knitpicks cotton/viscose and bulky cotton), crocheted in a ring pattern. The smile in the photo is a "whoopee I'm finished" smile. I'm naked behind the afghan. Just kidding.