Accomplishing the Impossible

For those who’ve been reading this blog for a while you might remember that despite my real love of knitting, I do have a couple nemeses. Scarves can be a challenge and the occasional & inevitable long stretch of stockinette can get to me, but nothing is as rough for me to get into and get done than dishcloths.  I love using them, but for whatever reason the actual knitting of them has never really been enjoyable for me.I honestly have no idea what my problem is with them, but I don’t look forward to knitting dishcloths and while I’m making them I feel like I might go bananas, so I tend to view them kind of like a necessary evil.

According to Ravelry, a little over 6 years ago I made a batch of Ballband Dishcloths. In an effort to keep it fun, I chose the brightest colors I could find. I really like the pattern and the colors and it was worth the effort. It was just in the last 6months or so that these started to wear out which I think it pretty impressive considering how much they were used and then washed and dried. Even the bright colors held up remarkably well.  I’d supplemented these with 3 New Log Cabin Dishcloths two summers ago, but 3 is not exactly ample supply in my house. This weekend when I finished up my current WIP it was extremely hot, so the alpaca/silk blend I have on deck (even in lace weight) sounded awful to me and the patterned sock I still have on the needles was more brainpower than I had to offer, so I picked up the ‘ol kitchen cotton and got to work.

A few months ago I’d bookmarked Sinkmates by Lorilee Beltman. It looked simple, but not boring and the garter ridges would definitely be strong enough to handle washing dishes. Plus, all the proceeds of this $2 pattern go to the Special Olympics — it is really impressive how much she’s raised so far! In any case, I cast-on and got going and the weirdest thing happened…

IMG_0230-1I got totally hooked!

I think there are a lot of aspects of this pattern that make it work for me — you start with an i-cord and then pick-up stitches and then the whole thing is decreasing, so you speed up with every row. Mentally speaking, that is huge for me and made these — shall I dare say it?! – fun! I could have kept going, but I stopped at 8. That seemed like enough for now and I’d burned through the bulk of this set of coordinated yarns.

I really enjoyed mixing and matching colors…

handpainted1This one I used a plain pink Peaches N’ Cream with a hand-dyed cotton that I’d picked up from Dyeabolical a few years back when she had some cottons available.

wash1This one is just the inverse, with the hand-dye for the i-cord and the plain pink for the main body.

hodgeAnd on this one I added a couple pink stripes to use it up and then ran out of the hand-dye, so I threw on a multi-colored Peaches N’ Cream for the last few rows.

On the hottest night, I cooled off with my dishcloth knitting and color coordinated Grapefruit Shandy…

IMG_0247-0Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that I used my fabulous Knitters’ Pride Trendz Interchangeable Needles for the job. They were perfect for this little project!

stripesOut of hand-dyes for this color family, I used a different multi-color from Peaches N’ Cream and a peachy-pink solid. This one might be my favorite, probably because I really enjoyed knitting it. Yes, I said I enjoyed knitting a dishcloth — what the what?!

In any case, you get the idea — mix & match and at the end of a couple days I have 8 new colorful dishcloths.

all of themYou’ll notice that the pattern includes a little loop in the i-cord at the corner — I left that off since I really have no where I’m ever going to hang these in that manner. I simply made my i-cord with 61 or 63 stitches — depending on how great my counting was at the moment — and picked up one stitch for each stitch in the i-cord.

 The best part about this whole process isn’t that I managed to use up some stash yarn or even that I can now trash the dishcloths I have been clinging to that are falling apart. No, the best part is that I feel like I accomplished the impossible. I made dishcloths for my kitchen and I enjoyed it. I never thought I’d see this day!

Of Gallivanting & Knitting

Pretty much right after I wrapped up my judging gig last week, my in-laws came for a visit. Despite the fact that I live in a teeny tiny house, I love having house guests. I love the company & the ease of spending time with those I don’t get to see often when they are staying under my roof. My husband’s parents live about a 10hour drive from our house, so we only get to see them two or three times a year. I am the first to admit that I am a very lucky lady in that my in-laws are really great. They have always gone above and beyond to make me feel like a part of their family and I’m extremely thankful that we get along well and enjoy each others’ company. Needless to say, those two or three times we manage to get together are very exciting for everyone.

20130819-112434.jpgOn this trip, we spent about half the time out and about — at playgrounds, a zoo, our community pool — mostly activities to watch the kids have fun.

We also took one morning for the grown-ups and did a Horicon Marsh Boat Tour. My husband & I have been out on The Marsh in our canoe & kayaks, but never tried this tour. Of course, we went for the 2hour Birding Adventure (my husband’s parents are into birds, too) to see what we would see.

20130819-112335.jpgIt was a gorgeous morning to be on The Marsh (but really, every morning is…).

We had more good looks at Belted Kingfishers than I could count, saw Yellow Warblers, a Catbird, loads of Blue Herons & Cormorants, both mature & immature Bald Eagles, but by far the highlight of the trip was finding a Peregrine Falcon. Oh wait, not just one, but TWO. A pair of Peregrine Falcons that proceeded to put on an aerial display that was everything you’d expect for the fastest bird on the planet — for at least 10minutes. For my husband & I, this was the second time seeing this pair — at least we assume it is the same pair based on location & the large ranges these birds tend to have. This time, however, instead of viewing them swooping and cartwheeling a mile up in the sky through a scope, they’d routinely speed past within 20ft of us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — our guide said that in 26years of doing these tours he had never seen such a display. It certainly makes you feel lucky!

20130819-112414.jpgOf course, almost equally impressive was that this little lady took the trip in stride. At 5years-old she managed to sit on a boat for two hours with grown-ups twitching at birds without interrupting or protesting. I was almost as proud at the end of this trip as I was the following day when she passed her ‘big pool’ swimming test at our local pool. Along with everything else going on, it was a weekend of big accomplishments for this soon-to-be kindergartener & I could not be any prouder of her (if it isn’t clear, this mama is beaming).

When we weren’t gallivanting though, we were knitting. My super sweet mother-in-law started knitting again a few years back and it is our little tradition that every time we get together I help her learn something new. This trip she tried the Capitol Square Market Bag & when she left she was doing as awesome job. I can’t wait to see it finished! We also made a trip to Firefly Fibers, for some goodies and I was treated to a Namaste Jemma Pouch.

20130819-131855.jpgI think the Hollywood Pink is super cute & coincidentally looks awesome with my Canary Devin Wristlet. I think my MIL & I may now be Namaste buddies, too!

I also picked up some Sugar N’Cream to work on my New Log Cabin Washcloths.

detail

I am mixing some hand-dyed cotton I got in a close-out from Dyeabolical Yarns last year with regular ol’ Sugar N’Cream.

close-upThe color combos are pretty fun — I am not a big fan of knitting washcloths, so anything I can do to make them interesting helps me to accomplish the task.

three dishclothsI’m pretty happy with the results & found pattern really fun to work with. You can see I wasn’t too precious about having these absolutely perfect — they are just going to be washing my  dishes anyway — so that is kind of fun, too — to relax and not worry too much about perfection. I have 3 or 4 or 5 other colors combos I’ll be working on over the next… well, few months probably. I’ll share as they come up.

My Rusted Root sweater was a bit too much focus for visiting with family, so I also started a sock.

full sock post heelJust the plain jane Basic Sock pattern from Churchmouse Yarn & Teas, I am knitting them in my Cakewalk Yarns Stash in Allegan. I bought this on Etsy this spring & sadly it looks like the shop is closed. The yarn is a merino/cashemere/nylon and the colors are beautiful & rich.

heel detailI kind of just want to dive in….  As you can see, I made it around the heel and am cruising along on the foot. Originally designated for a more ornate pattern, I’m happy to just be motoring through this sock. Sometimes just making something simple is fun, too — especially when the yarn is so nice!

As my MIL knitted along on her Market Bag, she caught the washcloth bug as well enabling her to knit with me until we lost the light and had to break for s’mores.

20130816-202240.jpgThankfully, I found I was able to knit by campfire light once I’d helped the kids finish up their s’mores & put them to bed.

We bid farewell to my in-laws yesterday morning after a big breakfast and are slowly getting back in swing of being home on our own. It is always a little sad, the house feels a little empty & quiet. All the extra room makes my teeny house feel big. The lack of chaos seems a little too easy to navigate. Eventually we all settle back into our routine though. My husband goes to work. I fold the laundry & run the dishwasher & make a grocery list. The kids clean up their room and do some lessons in their school prep. Moose sleeps. While we all exhale back into what is our ‘norm’, there’s a little place in all our hearts that looks forward to the next visit. When you think about it, we’ve already started the slow march toward that next visit. It can’t be too long now!