Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I can crochet a towel... (but does it work?)

Hello! Sorry it's been so long since I updated. I think that all the busyness around the beginning of school took a few weeks to make itself apparent, but now we're over the bump. It hit me this morning, as I dropped Brendan off at school, that I don't so much drop him off as he releases me into the world when he gets out of the car. If I'm busy that morning, then the uneasy feeling doesn't get through to me... but when I'm not busy, the rest of the morning feels awfully empty. The nice thing is that, when I'm energetic, I have been Doing Things with this time (deep-cleaning various parts of the house, making curry powder from scratch, learning how to make coffee cake all over again). When I'm not so energetic, I think about the holidays coming up, & what do I need to start making for whom (then I sit at the computer & order yarn :).

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? :)

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