Monday, February 6, 2012

January's Project of the Month--Crochet a Dishcloth

Well, I did it! I learned how to crochet a dishcloth. 
I mentioned in an earlier post that I want to develop a new skill or do something I've never done before every month in 2012. I'd never crocheted before this month and I am happy to say that I now feel confident enough about my skills that I think I can teach the girls how to crochet over the next few months. I won't go so far as to say that I can make anything impressive like an afghan, but I do well enough to competently make what I want to make which is dishcloths.

Honestly, I've always looked at crocheting as being difficult. If you look at it being done by someone else and you have never even held crochet hooks before, it looks fairly complex. Especially if you are watching someone who has been doing it for a while and is FAST. I have had various people say they would teach me sometime over the years, but that never happened (probably because I never pushed the issue since I thought I would be all thumbs at it and wanted to avoid looking silly). 

Well, last month when I was Christmas shopping I was wandering down the craft aisle looking for supplies to put in the girls' Christmas gifts (sewing baskets), and I happened to see a set of crochet hooks for sale. I don't know what made me toss them into my shopping cart (maybe it was the four skeins of yarn a friend gave me a few months ago?), but I did it.

Fast forward to after Christmas and the kids have been outside playing, climbing trees and tramping through the "enchanted forest." Cowboy runs in crying because he's caught his favorite scarf (from Lady L.) on a branch and a portion of it unraveled. Aha! I say. I have a crochet hook. Maybe I can fix it...I manage to figure out enough by trial and error to passably repair the scarf, Cowboy is grateful and very happy, and I am intrigued. Maybe crocheting is not so hard after all...

A few days later I came up with my "project of the month" plan, and I decided it was time to just do it...let's learn to crochet! Well, I tried figuring it out using an excellent book my mom loaned me, but alas, the abbreviations and terms made no sense to me because I was starting at ground zero...absolutely no experience at all. I've never even watched someone crochet regularly! I needed to come up with another way to learn, but my friend who crochets and my mom were busy, not to mention, it was usually late at night when I had extra time on my hands, so I thought, "Why not see what the internet has to offer?"

Wouldn't you know that YouTube has loads of free videos on how to crochet? It turns out that a video was exactly what I needed (though Mom helped me one evening to fix my hand position...thanks, Mom!). 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Mikey is my favorite teacher. It is a little bit different having a guy as a crochet teacher (at least my kids thought so...they all came up at one time or another and said, "A boy?????"...even Boo thought it was funny!!). I think since Mikey is a guy, he doesn't assume you know everything, so he explains it all. I read once that women do better with learning to shoot in boot camp than guys because they don't have preconceived notions about knowing what to do and they are more willing to listen and take all advice. Maybe this is a similar thing...but sort of in reverse, and backwards, well, maybe you get what I mean.

Another basic lesson with Mikey. I don't know how much the two lessons differ, so I am posting both.

I wound up figuring this out on my own (we played around with making necklaces and bracelets out of these for a few days by adding beads to the chains), but this video is a good one.

This lady is very deliberately slow which is good when you are just starting. I would also start and stop the video while I practiced. I especially liked how she had the names of the stitches written on a white board for you to see...something about the written words plus the talking helped me, not to mention the fact that she shows what all those abbreviations mean in the crochet patterns!

Once you have the basics, I found that this video demonstrates five important stitches very effectively.

Here is one more version of four important stitches.

Here are a few websites with printed instructions and/or patterns:
Basic stitches
Picture Tutorial: How to Crochet
Basic Crochet Patterns and Charts
Dish and Washcloth Mania
Knitterly Stuff Basic Washcloth
Crochet n'Crafts Dishcloth
Peaches n' Cream Free Kitchen Patterns
The Good Life Spa Cloth Pattern

Well, here is how my first attempts turned out:

I used the yarn I had available and played around with the stitches until I felt fairly confident (that took about a week). Along the way, I wound up making about a dozen bracelets and necklaces for the kids, a few bookmarks, two "blankets" for small dollies, and a doll apron, hat, and shawl.

Finally I buckled down for the long haul and made this while watching a show one evening...

I mailed it to my grandmother since she likes to wash her dishes every morning to help make her hands feel better (the warm water soothes her RA). She was pleased as punch and actually said she'd never had a washcloth of this type before. I couldn't believe it...I thought these were a classic! I am glad I was able to introduce her to the best kind of washcloth in the world. Nubby, yet soft. Durable, yet pretty.

After a few more blue washcloths (which I am mailing to the grandmas), I finally went to Walmart and picked up some green and white cotton yarn (the type usually used for making washcloths). Green is the color I use in my kitchen (sage green), and white, of course, goes with anything. I also picked up a few of the darning-type needles for tucking in the ends of the yarn. I'd been using the small crochet hook, and that is harder. 

I think this washcloth turned out pretty well...I decided to keep this one. ;-) It took me the length of the movie "A Mile in His Shoes" to do from start to finish. Not too bad! Watching Mikey's video repeatedly helped me figure out the hand position that works for me and is most conducive to speeding things up and increasing my efficiency.

While I crocheted, Ladybug worked on her own apron for herself. She got her sewing basket for Christmas and has been practicing sewing buttons and making doll pillows.

To make the apron, she gathered scraps from my sewing basket, found a small apron to use as a template, and laid out the cloth in a way that was pleasing to her. She is going to sew the pieces together, then we will cut out a pattern, trim the cloth, and she will sew the edges and trim the apron. She is doing a fantastic job!!

Firefly wants in on the fun, too, so she plans to break out the Build-a-Bear kit her Bubba bought her for Christmas the next time we have a sewing day. It's going to be so wonderful sewing with my two little ladies...and to think, this is just the beginning. *grin*

Next month, I plan to organize our home library. We will be sorting the books into genres and topics, labeling their spines, putting them into labeled baskets or on designated shelves, and perhaps even cataloging what we have. I have been wanting to do this for a loooooong time. The kids are very excited about this and both Ladybug and Tex have offered to be the official "librarians." Check back next month to see how my next monthly challenge goes!



Jennifer said...

My daughter made me a crocheted washcloth earlier this year and I'm enjoying it. How is the dishcloth holding up after several months of use?

Heather said...

Ours is holding up quite well. I really like this type of washcloth. I need to teach Ladybug how to crochet, but we've been so wrapped up in our other projects and wedding planning that crafty things have fallen by the wayside. I am looking forward to July and a bit of a break!

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