The Best Crochet Washcloth

Crochet Washcloth 1

I’ve really been on a cotton kick because of the warm weather (and because cotton is great, as illustrated before), and I was all pumped up ready to do a blog post on crocheting a tunisian simple stitch washcloth out of some pretty blue cotton I’ve had lying around. And then this post from Purl Soho doing exactly what I wanted to do pops up on my Pinterest feed.

Well, hell. There’s really no reason to reinvent the wheel here. Or is there?

Reasons why Tunisian Simple Stitch is the ideal stitch for washcloths:

1. Two-sided: Tunisian simple stitch creates a smooth surface on one side of the work and a nubby, ridged surface (similar to garter stitch) on the other side. (The smooth side is pictured above, the nubby side is pictured below)

crochet washcloth 3

Nubby scrubby goodness.

2. Tunisian simple stitch rows are compact and set close together- no gaping holes in the stitchwork. Unlike the first crochet waschloth I attempted, which was in double crochet in a large gauge – terrible idea. It wasn’t the kind of dense, solid material you want for a washcloth.

3. Tunisian creates a firm fabric that doesn’t like to stretch (unlike knitting). So you’re crochet that looks neat and firm when made stays that way even when used to scrub! Again, my first washcloth ended up looking more like a fishing net because I used double crochet and it stretched like crazy.

In the end, there are a lot of crochet washcloth patterns out there. Even the skein of Bernat Cotton DeLux I used sported a free pattern for a crochet washcloth – one I beg you not to attempt, for the love of solid, usable washcloths.

An offset single crochet, ch 1 mesh? Uh.. no.

An offset single crochet, ch 1 mesh? Uh.. no.

I used a 6.00 mm tunisian crochet hook, some cotton yarn (pictured above) and a 25 stitch long Tunisian simple stitch repeat. Note that Purl Soho has a good Tunisian simple stitch tutorial if you need a primer.

crochet washcloth 2

The Purl Soho pattern uses Blue Sky Skinny Cotton. At which I laughed.

Blue Sky cotton at 14.50 a skein? For a washcloth? Uh… no.

There is so much affordable cotton yarn at the hobby stores and online – Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton is another of my favorites. You certainly don’t need to run out and buy boutique yarn for this kind of project.

Don’t have a tunisian hook? Fear not. Again, most of us don’t have Purl Soho budgets … some of us may not even want to spare the extra cash to get a special hook. The good news is that my washcloth is small enough to fit on a regular crochet hook with a stopper rigged up to the end.

crochet washcloth 4

Necessity is the mother of invention and also it’s a good excuse to get wine.

You could use duct tape or rubber bands, too. Anything that stops your stitches from slipping off the end of your hook.

The Best Crochet Washcloth Pattern:

Materials: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton DeLux, or other worsted weight cotton. A coordinating color (optional), tapestry or yarn needle.

Hook: 6.00 mm tunisian hook or regular hook with a stopper.

Gauge: 4 stitches in tunisian simple stitch = 1″

Ch 25.

Row 1: (forward pass) draw up a loop from each chain stitch.

Row 2: (backward pass) Yo, draw through one loop. *Yo, draw through 2 lps) repeat to the end.

Row 3: Ch 1 (counts as first stitch of forward pass), draw up a loop through each stitch to the end.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 22 more times.

When last backward pass is complete, chain 10. Slip stitch at the base of the chain (hanging loop for washcloth is complete), cut yarn and tie off.

Attach contrasting yarn color, single crochet in each stitch or row edge around the entire washcloth , working 3 sc at each corner. Join with a slip stitch when round is complete.

For an extra border, slip stitch  in each stitch two rows in from the edge stitches around the entire washcloth. Cut yarn and tie off.

Weave in all ends. Congratulate yourself for not having spent $50 on a damn washcloth.

-MF

Advertisements

Bindu Recycled Sweater Bikini

BinduBeforeAfter

When it comes to screaming “beach hippie” I don’t think you can get much louder than the crocheted bikini, and it didn’t take me very long to make one after re-entering the world of crochet in my late teens. Except, because I didn’t know any better seven years ago… I made it out of 100% acrylic. Yikes.

For those of you who don’t know, acrylic yarns do not breathe, and they certainly are not absorbent or fast-drying. So they aren’t the kind of material you want to sweat in. All I’m sayin’ is, crochet yourself an acrylic bikini and prepare for your boobs to suffocate.

Cotton’s the thing.

According to the Cotton Australia website, cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water, and the fibers actually become stronger when wet. Cotton’s thermal conductivity keeps the body warm in winter and cool in summer – in addition to its unique fiber structure that allows ventilation of air. Sounds like good bikini material to me.

I hodge-podged this crocheted bikini top together using recycled cotton sweater yarn and some really tight half doubles. The cup design comes from this wonderful, free bikini halter top pattern from Melissa Bjerregaard on Ravelry.

However, I didn’t really feel like messing with pineapple lace for this one, pretty as it may be. I designed my own edging for the cups. The following is more of a pattern recipe than a pattern. I used a lot of different techniques to make this, so for easy searching I have linked to any instructional material BOTH in the pattern AND in the following list.

Tutorial References:

Pineapple Lace summer halter neck top by Melissa Bjerregaard

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn by Morale Fiber

Double Chain Tutorial by Morale Fiber

Pom Pom Edge by Once Upon a Pink Moon

Crochet Chart Symbols from Craft Yarn Council

Bindu Cover

Inspiration for this free bikini halter top pattern came from my love of henna designs, the thick lotus-petal shaped motifs, linework and dot borders. Made from recycled cotton yarn, this pom-pom fringed top is earth friendly and perfect for dance class, unique festival wear, or your next beach adventure!

Stats:

Hook: Use whatever fits your yarn. I used a 2.25.

Yarn: 100% cotton yarn recycled from an old sweater, yarn similar to the following measurements:  #1 weight, 22 WPI, 250 yards (.229 g per yard).

Bikini Recycled Sweater Yarn

Gauge: As tight as you can manage.

A few notes: I really dislike the “bump” under shirts in the back caused by tied bikini straps, so I rigged up a button system to avoid that. The pattern recipe is for regular style straps, so my pictures will differ slightly from the pattern.

I could not find the standard symbols for a few of the stitches I used. For these stitches I included a key in the charts.

1. First, crochet yourself two separate cups using the directions from this pattern.

2. With the wrong side of the cup facing, work a simple filet of (dc, ch 1) up one side of the top of the cup. I started at the bottom right corner and worked a ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch 1), *sk next stitch, dc in the next stitch* rpt.

When you come to the top point of the cup formed by the central 3 hdc cluster, you will work ONE of the following charts to increase. Making the filet increase for this point depends on whether you have an even number of stitches or an odd number.

BikiniEven BikiniOdd

Once you have worked your increase, continue working the filet repeat down the other side of the cup until 2 or 3 stitches from the bottom corner (just make sure you end your repeat on a dc). Without chaining, dc in the 2nd or 3rd stitch from the bottom corner of the next cup, connecting the two cups. Work the edging for the next cup in the same manner as the first. Work the repeat all the way to the corner of the second cup. Cut yarn & fasten off.

3. Double chain (click here for instructions) the length you want your side strap to be. With the right side of the cups facing, begin to single crochet across the bottom of the cup – you will be working stitches into the row edges of the original cup.

I didn’t sc in the edge of every row, because it came out looking too loose- remember that this is going to stretch a bit in places! I didn’t want the bottom of the cups stretching too much (that’s a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen) so I skipped about every third stitch – experiment and see what looks right to you. When you reach the end of the first cup, ch 1 and continue to sc across the bottom of the second cup using the same ratio.

When you reach the end of the second cup, start a double chain using the last sc as your base. Double chain the same length as your first side strap. Do not tie off.

4. Work 2 single chain stitches at the end of your double chain length. Turning your stitch direction counterclockwise (but not flipping the chain over) work hdc down the back of each double chain stitch, back toward the bikini cup.

Working the back of the double chain toward the cup. Ignore the fact that I have part of my bottom edging on already. For you, the bottom will just be straight.

Working the back of the double chain toward the cup.
Ignore the fact that I have part of my bottom edging on already. For you, the bottom will just be straight.

When you reach the cup, sc in each stitch across (both the dc stitches and the ch-1’s count as stitches here) until you reach the point at the top of the cup. Double chain your first strap from here, as long as you want it. When your strap is the appropriate length, ch 2 and work a hdc in each double chain stitch back down the opposite side of the chain. When you reach the cup point again, resume single crocheting two stitches from the beginning of your double chain.

The strap connecting point should look like this

The strap connecting point should look like this

Sc in each stitch until 3 stitches from the connecting point of the two cups. Ch 2, sk 6 stitches, sc in the next stitch and in each stitch across until you reach the point at the top of the second cup.

The 1st row and the 2nd row of the cup join.

The 1st row and the 2nd row of the cup join.

Work your strap in the same manner as with the first cup, then sc in each stitch until your reach the end of the second cup. Hdc in each double chain stitch of the strap until the end. Cut yarn and tie off.

5. Working with the bottom edge of the bikini, decide where you would like the edge motif to start and end (make sure you still have enough room to tie your straps tight – again, THIS WILL STRETCH SOME, so take that into account). You need a multiple of 5 +1 for the pattern repeat. Place markers at the beginning and end of your range.

Joining your yarn at your beginning stitch, work the following motif pattern within your set range of stitches.

a. Ch 3 (counts as dc + ch 1). *sk next stitch, dc in the next st, ch 1* rpt.

b. Ch 1, turn. Sc in each stitch across.

The bottom stitches are either double chain stitches or single crochet, depending on whether you are working the strap or the bottom of the cup.

The bottom stitches are either double chain stitches or single crochet, depending on whether you are working the strap or the bottom of the cup.

c. *Ch 9, sk 4 sts, sl st in the next st.* rpt

d. Ch 1, turn. *Work (2 hdc, 3 dc, 3 tr, 3 dc, 2 hdc) in the next ch-9 space* rpt.

BikiniChart1b

e. Turn. Sl stitch in the next 7 stitches. *ch 5, work 1 pom pom stitch, ch 5, sl stitch in the middle treble of the next cluster* rpt.

BikiniChartMain

Cut yarn and tie off. Weave in all the ends.

Crochet Bikini 13

Looks a little curly, doesn’t it? This is where blocking comes in. Since this is cotton, you can just dunk the entire thing in some water and soak it for a few minutes, then gently squeeze the water out (do NOT wring it). Lay it out on a towel and arrange it so the hem lays flat. You can pin it down to hold the shape if need be, paying special attention to the points to get a good dramatic silhouette goin’ on. Wait for it to dry and you’re done!

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

I added some wide wooden beads for a little extra fun by just slipping the strap through them. Now if only my state wasn’t completely landlocked.

If spending a ton of time messing with teeny yarn and guessing cup size is annoying for you, check out the Mehndi Halter Top – a paid pattern inspired by this project but uses #4 weight cotton blend yarns and detailed row-by-row directions in cup sizes from A- 38C!

Mehndi1

 

-MF

2-Ply or Not 2-Ply?

So far my spinning accomplishments have limited myself to singles (one-ply yarns) for multiple reasons.

One is that I adore singles for their neat, sleek appearance and the wonderful stitch definition you get from them, as well as the beautiful way colors pop on a single-ply strand. Witness!

Knit Picks Chroma Fingering

Knit Picks Chroma Fingering

Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable

Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Another reason I have remained single-ply is that within my current range of spinning equipment, plying any decent length of yarn is a really royal pain.

So why ply at all? F&%$ it, right?

Of course not. Art is about SMASHING YOUR LIMITATIONS!!!

Spinning a single requires allowing enough twist to enter the fiber so that it has some strength and doesn’t just fall apart. The twist increases the density of the fiber, making the strand firmer the more you twist it. This means that a really strong strand or ply is going to be pretty firm as well – and why would you want to stitch up clothing that feels like a bunch of rope rather than cushy, soft yarn?

Of course, as illustrated above, there are plenty of single ply yarns that are more than adequate for making cushy soft things. Plying is merely one way to balance strength and fluff – allowing 2 plies of fiber to unleash some of their twist energy by winding around each other fluffs them up while combining their strength.

I came to fully realize this concept when I began to spin a sample piece of Targhee roving. I’ll save my rave reviews of this breed’s fiber for another post – for now I’ll just say that I spun it fairly thin (which was easy because this stuff is AWESOME.. ahem). But, damn, the spongy wonderfulness of this wool didn’t seem to translate into my spun single. It was just too dense.

The Targhee single in the completed Andean wrap

The Targhee single in the completed Andean wrap “bracelet”

Since this was just a sample yarn I was doing for fun, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out Andean plying, a method of producing 2-ply yarn using only one strand of 1-ply, using (as far as I can tell) some sort of weird mountain shaman yarn magic.

Just kidding. The Andean ply wrap is really not as complicated as it looks, once you try it out.

This special way of wrapping allows you to feed the two opposite ends of the single strand onto your spindle at once, plying them together.

WARNING: Wrap loosely, for the sake of your digits. My tension was not relaxed enough and by the end my middle finger was purple and felt like it was going to fall off, which would suck, because that is my favorite finger.

TargheePly2

Once I had that conquered, I plied my yarn, making sure to spin my spindle in the opposite direction (clockwise) that my single ply was spun (counterclockwise). Spinning clockwise produces what is referred to as an “z” twist, while counterclockwise is referred to as “s” twist.

Do you see an

Do you see an “z” in there? I don’t.

Success! What was once a very firm single that would have made a terrible hat was transformed into a soft 2-ply, retaining the bouncy charm of the Targhee fiber but with the strength of a single. It would make a great hat, if I had more than 40 yards of it. Maybe that will soon be remedied.

DSCN1901

-MF

P.S – I knitted up a tiny swatch just to see what it was like. As this great article from Knitty Spin attests, handspun does indeed have an energy unique and different than machine made. Mine was practically leaping off of my needles! Interesting.