Humanity can be divided into two groups of people. Those who use sponges to wash their dishes and those who use dishcloths. My mother-in-law uses a sponge. My mother uses a dishcloth. The sponge vs. dishcloth debate has gone on for generations. There are arguments for and against both, but being my mother's daughter I come down on the side of the dishcloth. I enjoy making my own so I was happy to hear that Susan Lowman has released a new pattern booklet entitled Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths.
The booklet is published by Annie's and available here. It includes photos, instructions and charts for 6 beautiful wiggly crochet dishcloth projects. The patterns are well-written and easy-to-follow. I would expect nothing less from Susan, a talented designer, superb crochet technical editor, my mentor and my friend.
I decided to start with Susan's Four Square pattern. Like all of the dishcloths in the booklet, you begin this dishcloth by making a crochet grid (sort of like filet crochet). Once you finish your grid you fill in some of the squares with crochet stitches that stand up and look, well, wiggly!
The effect is amazing but it's really not hard to do. Once you get the hang of the technique you can design patterns of your own. For my second dishcloth I made a basic chevron pattern.
For these dishcloths I used Omega Sinfonia yarn, a light worsted weight cotton recommended by the pattern. It was easy to work with and the colors are lovely.
If you'd like a chance at winning a signed copy of Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths, just leave a comment on Susan's blog. Even if you don't think you're lucky enough to win the booklet, I recommend you check out Susan's blog anyway. It's filled with interesting posts and has a lot more information about this fun, pretty technique of wiggly crochet.
I challenge you sponge people to try making just one wiggly crochet dishcloth. I think it might convince you come over to our side.
I'm writing crochet patterns at the moment and that doesn't lend itself to blogging, so I thought I'd blog about a folded paper project I made for the new apartment. This project is a replica of something I saw in one of my favorite out-of-print books, Paper Pleasures. An artist named David Lewis did the folding sequence. I've searched for Mr. Lewis on the Internet but can't find him. There were no directions about how to fold his piece but with some trial and error I figured it out. Mr. Lewis' work was 4 panels and big enough to hang on a gallery wall. I decided to make my version three panels and small enough to fit in an Ikea frame.
I started with three squares of 6" origami paper. I folded the first one like this.
It's not as difficult as you might imagine. Start by folding your paper into sixteenths in both directions. Then make 7 folds on 45% angles. I drew a diagram for you.
Once you've got your pre-creases done, fold up your paper like so (solid lines are valley folds, dotted lines are mountain folds).
If you thought that was hard, don't worry. The next step is easy. Pick up the second sheet of origami paper and crunch it into a ball.
Then use both of the skills you've just learned, folding and crunching, and make the third square of origami paper half crunched and half folded.
Smooth out the crunched up paper areas and you'll have a progression that looks something like this. Pretty cool Mr. Lewis!!!
Mr. Lewis could have stopped there but he didn't. He took an airbrush and gave his paper a gradient color from light to dark. I don't have an airbrush so I used a Rembrandt soft pastel instead.
Starting at the lower right corner of your paper, color like crazy with your soft pastel.
Use a tissue to gradually spread the color to the opposite corner. Work it around a bit until you get a nice gradation from light to dark. Workable fixative will help with this process. I stopped and sprayed my pieces a couple of times while coloring, and then again at the end to keep the color on the paper.
Now get your Erikslund frame from Ikea (I painted mine white a few years ago).
I love the way it looks now, but when it started it looked like this:
This old brass chandelier was originally hanging in the bedroom. When we put up new lighting in the bedroom we took this down. Mike figured we'd put it in the trash. Mike was WRONG. He didn't know that I had a plan for this baby involving Dawn dishwashing liquid, apple cider vinegar and four cans of spray paint.
First I took off all of the parts that were easily take-off-able and scrubbed everything down with dishwashing detergent. Then I soaked the loose pieces in a strong apple cider vinegar solution, and applied straight apple cider vinegar to the rest of the chandelier with a cloth. I let it sit for a day or two and then rinsed off the vinegar and gave it one more good cleaning with Dawn.
Next I took it out to the backyard and hit it with several coats of white primer spray paint. I used Krylon because it was the only brand they had at the nearest hardware store. It worked great.
I let the primer dry overnight and then put on the color - a nice bright yellow.
I sprayed the bits and pieces separately. It took a number of coats of paint to achieve a smooth even color.
I threaded the tubular candle sticks on a long strip of cardboard to keep them still while I painted.
After another day or two of drying time, I put the whole thing back together.
Because I wasn't sure I had done the wiring correctly, I spliced the main cord to an old extension cord and plugged it into a wall outlet to make sure it worked. It worked!
Mike did the installation while the Karabouts dolls looked on.
We're having a snow storm today in New York City...
so I thought it would be a good day to blog about my first attempt at making crocheted snowflakes.
I was inspired to make snowflakes by my friend Johanna who sent us a crocheted snowflake with her lovely handmade holiday card.
I'm not sure which pattern Johanna used, but I used this free pattern I found on the blog Attic 24. I made half a dozen snowflakes out of some natural wool I had in my yarn stash. Since I learned about starching from my crocheted lampshade project, I decided to starch my flakes.
Below is a comparison of a blocked and unblocked snowflake. You can see from the photo how starching and pinning really brings out the beauty of the crochet stitches.
My snowflakes look great on the tree...
but once the tree comes down I think I'll hang them on my windows so that I can enjoy them all winter long.
Mike and I found a floor lamp at Bed Bath and Beyond that was around 15 bucks because it had no shade. We brought it home and I decided to crochet a shade for it.
I started by crocheting a big circular sort of thing with a hole in the middle. I used Lion Cotton yarn. I alternated rounds of single and double crochet. On the single crochet rounds I increased the same way you would if you were going to make a crochet ball. When I was done it looked like this.
Next, I cooked up a stiffener. I used regular old cornstarch and water. I mixed about 8 tablespoons of starch into 2 cups of water and cooked it until it got thick, shiny, and translucent.
I poured the starch into a bowl and let it COOL DOWN (very important!!).
Then I threw my crocheted circle into the bowl of starch and worked the starch evenly into the cotton yarn with my hands.
Next, I rolled the crochet circle in a clean towel to get rid of the excess starch. When I was done it looked like this (it grew quite a bit).
Then I stretched the crocheted circle over a big bowl (covered with saran wrap) and let it dry.
Once the shade was dry, I attached it to the top of our lamp with the existing hardware and flipped the switch!