Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I can crochet a towel... (but does it work?)
I am in the midst of designing 2 sweaters from crocheted motifs, & it's become apparent that I need a dress form to make headway on at least one of these projects. I dug out my old Threads magazine files & found the article about making dress forms from duct tape. Charlie seems up for it :) so I'll let you know how it goes!
Today's headliner project is one of those near-to-my-heart things- how to make something that is useful, beautiful, & above-all, hand-made! And how much more basic can you get, project-wise, than a towel? I have been trying to make towels for years, & happily, I have succeeded more often than I've failed. But the best towels (so far) have been handwoven & I just don't have the free brain cells these days to weave, so next-sturdiest fabric for towel-making, to my mind, is crochet. Last Spring I found a crocheted ripple-pattern towel pattern at Lion Brand that called for their Recycled Cotton yarn, so I gave it a try. I had to rip the pattern & start again a few times before I could get it right (which got me searching for a better ripple pattern- more on that later...) but eventually I produced a finished towel- hooray! I was very pleased to ensconce it in the downstairs bathroom (where I have the most need for hand-towels) & put it to work. This is where I re/discovered that towels need to be more than just rectangular & somewhat larger than your hand- they need to be Absorbent. Lion Brand Recycled Cotton yarn is nice stuff, great for shawls, etc, but it is made from a certain amount of non-natural (unnatural?) fibres, which seriously impedes the absorbency. So much for just picking up pattern, yarn, hook, & making something...
(In other words, had I actually thought about it, I'd never have chosen that yarn to make a towel, so why did I suspend my good sense just because the towel pattern called for this yarn...?)
The desire to crochet a towel then sent me into 2 different directions: the search for a reliable (understandable, dare I say, simple?) ripple pattern, & the search for yarn that is absorbent enough to be made into towels. My weaving experience tells me that 100% cotton is a good place to start :) so I decided to try KnitPicks' Simply Cotton Sport yarn, using the Toffee, Ginger, & Malted Milk colours from their organic yarns' line. I was also fortunate to run into a lovely ripple pattern from dear Lucy at Attic 24. If you like ripples, hers is very simple to make & remember, so give it a try! I swatched it first, & found I liked the fabric I got with a G/6/4.00mm hook. The finished towel is 12.5"x30" because I wanted a decent-sized towel when I was done.
How does it work? The pattern was a dream to crochet- fun & relaxing. The striping sequence was easy to keep track of (& based mostly on what yarn I had on hand...). So I have successfully found a ripple pattern (yay!). Is it absorbent? The jury's still out on that one. It wasn't very absorbent before it was machine-washed, and after one washing it's a bit more, but not nearly as much as one of my hand-woven towels. However, I (and my patient family) am giving it more time. It does look really nice in the bathroom though, doesn't it? :)