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FREE PATTERN: Perfect Lay-Flat Knitted Diagonal Garter Washcloth

With my upcoming surgery looming in the near future, I decided to make the most of my time and get a head start on this year’s holiday teacher gifts.  I still make the Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for my kids’ teachers, lunch ladies and daycare workers, and, not knowing how much I’d be up for a long bout of down-to-the-wire crafting post-op (since I somehow always end up working til 4am the night before the last day of school), I was smart and started early.

I decided to make dish/washcloths again.  It’s been a few years since the junior campus staff got regular square washcloths, and I haven’t made them for anyone on senior side yet, so I wasn’t worried about being too repetitive.  I dug some favorite Bernat Handicrafter Cotton from my stash and pulled up the most basic, well known, standard dishcloth pattern Ravelry had to offer – a plain old, diagonal-knit garter washcloth.

Plenty of yarn, plenty of time, and a well-worn pattern.  This, I thought, would be a breeze.  I was even optimistic enough to think I’d have the Xmas gifts ready before November!

Heh.

My troubles started early on.  After completing the first washcloth, actually.  I had finished it and set it down flat on the table and noticed the lower edge immediately curl upwards.  I smoothed it flat but it quickly rolled inwards again.  It wasn’t terribly noticeable, and – let’s face it – this is a dishcloth.  If used properly it would end up scrunched and rolled and pulled and would sag and ease out of shape quickly.  But I was annoyed at how it looked and poked around at it a bit trying to figure out why the top half was fine but the lower half curled in.  The top half, by contrast, lay beautifully flat. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong.

Finally I realized it wasn’t my fault – there was an inherent flaw with the pattern. It was the kind where you increase into the second stitch of every row.  That type of increase pulls imperceptibly on the outer stitch, eating up the slack between the first two stitches.  When this is done at intervals one would hardly notice, but when it is done at the beginning of every row the result was edges that curled inwards.  This didn’t occur on the top half of the diamond because that was the decrease half and I wasn’t using any of the previous row’s slack at all.

I could smooth it flat and I could have blocked it but come on… blocking washcloths?  No thanks.  I’d rather figure out how to knit it without the flaw.

The main thing was to figure out what increase to use.  Any increase which went into the prior row, including a standard ‘make 1’, would cause the same inward tugging.  Yarn-over increase patterns didn’t have that problem, but I didn’t want eyelets dotting the sides of my washcloth.  I wanted these cloths to look less dainty, more ‘rugged’, if that makes sense.  I decided to work YO increases but to close them on the subsequent rows by knitting them through the back loop.

Once I was tinkering with the pattern I also added a plain row at the max width point before transitioning into the decreases. Diagonal patterns always seem to have you go from wide to narrow without any plain row in between and I find that the extra row tugs less on those points of the diamond.  The result is a lovely garter washcloth which has wonderful drape and lays flat beautifully, and is now my go-to knit washcloth or dishcloth.

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I’ve knit 9 of them so far… sadly not anywhere near how many I need, but enough to know I’m really happy with how it works out, and I added it to Ravelry tonight.

The yardage listed is for a dishcloth knit to 41 sts, which results (at my tension) in a 9” x 9” square. You can easily make them larger or smaller. If desired before binding off you can create a strip to fold over and sew down for a hanging loop by either knitting about 4” of garter on those 3 sts or knitting them into a 4” long 3-st i-cord.

This pattern would work equally well for baby blankets or throws, continuing to increase until whatever max diagonal is desired before working the plain row and then beginning the decreases.

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You can view the pattern’s Ravelry page here, or click ‘download now’ to get it directly.
download now

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timing is everything

I started a vest for myself.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.

At guild on Tuesday I won a mini raffle we did, and got a 2012/2013 Bergere de France magazine.  There are some GORGEOUS patterns in there, but I was taken by 2 in particular.  One of them I’m not sure what yarn to use, but the other…well…it’s a fun fur vest.  I know.

I know.

I KNOW.

But it’s really cute, and worse comes to worst I’m always cold at home so….  Yeah.  Moving on…

The body is worked on 8mm needles so it’s a fast knit.  It’s kinda a shrug/vest hybrid, and on Wednesday night I cast on.  I finished the back ribbing and the first few rows of the body.  And then I brought it to work with me on Thursday so I could photocopy the pattern out of the magazine to make it easier to work on.

Now, I shouldn’t have started this project on Wed.  I had realized just that morning that Christmas might be in 2 weeks, but the last day of daycare/kindergarten is next week, which means I’m running out of time to do the holiday teachers’ gifts which I haven’t started yet.  I *should* have started those.  But I didn’t.

Which makes it only fitting that I forgot the project at work last night, and then today both boys woke up with fevers, meaning I had to keep them home, and be home all day, and NOT be able to work on the vest.

Which means that in about 5 minutes I’ll be starting the holiday teachers’ gifts, all due next week.  🙂


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covered in icing

My day  ended covered in icing.  Always, when I make the birthday cakes, since the parties are usually on Sundays, I bake on Thurs, dirty-ice on Fri and decorate on Sat.  So today was decoration day.  I knew better than to risk starting to make my buttercream while the boys were up, but I wasn’t worried about getting a late start because of how much I got done being home yesterday.

In the afternoon my neighbor brought her 7-month-old daughter over for us to babysit, and my boys had a BLAST playing with her.  She was seated in her Bumbo like a princess on a throne, and the boys didn’t stop parading in front of her trying to make her laugh.  First Jakob would do somersaults across the room, then Henri broke in with a guitar solo, and Jakob wouldn’t be outdone, so he grabbed some maracas and got in on the performance.  It was a riot.

Luckily she practically put herself to sleep just before the boys went down, and I was able to get to work on the cake.  But I forgot to take pics with my cell, and my camera isn’t with me at the moment, so instead of cake pics, here’s an update on the holiday gifts for the boys’ daycare teachers.

This is what each teacher (5 in total) got.  A red platter, topped with a back scrubber, a crocheted chain-8 dishcloth, a crocheted soap-saver bag with a scented bar of soap inside, and a crocheted bath puff, all wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a ribbon of red yarn.

The chain-8 and bath puff are the standard patterns I’ve been using for years, and are linked from the projects on my Rav pages.  The soap saver I just made up on the spot, and is basically just a sc1-ch1 pattern around, with a drawstring near the top.  All was done with 2 shades of holiday Bernat Handicrafter cotton, plain white Handicrafter, and a 4mm crochet hook.

I’ve made these as teacher gifts before, but both my boys are with new teachers now so none of these 5 have received this gift before, so I didn’t mind recycling the idea.  The daycare owner, however, has already received this gift, so I needed to come up with something new.  She also happens to be pregnant, and due with a little boy any day now.  So she got this:

It’s 2 shades of Bernat Baby Coordinates from my stash, worked in a simple granny square, using a 4mm crochet hook.  I would have liked to have gone bigger, but it was late, she was leaving on mat leave the next day, and my hand was starting to cramp into a claw.