Tons ‘o dishcloths

TomSets Dishcloths are not every knitters cup of tea. Some see them as a waste of stitches, not to mention yarn. I see dishcloths as instant gratification and a chance to try out a new stitch pattern. The end result is something useful that won’t be a bacteria incubator if you wash it frequently enough.

These are all knit in Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream. Of the 40 zillion dishcloths knit in the U.S. last year, 38 million were knit in Sugar ‘n Cream. And the look alike Peaches ‘n Cream captures most of the rest of the dishcloth stitches. (There were also 3 dishcloths knit in dye-free, certified organic cotton, that you’d best take out a mortgage to buy.)

No dishcloths will look pristine after the first go-round in the washer and dryer. But pristine is not what it’s about.

The entire set of 10 is for my brother Tom, who mentioned that he missed our mom’s dishcloths. She kept us supplied with them, always in the pattern now known as “Grandmother’s Favorite” dishcloth. I believe that eons ago that pattern was printed inside a Sugar ‘n Cream ballband. Now it’s printed all over the internet. It’s worked on the diagonal, with an eyelet border formed from yarn overs. None of these are Grandmother’s Favorite. That pattern was my mom’s specialty and I must leave that pattern to her. (And to the knitters supplying Hillman’s Brush Creek Mill gift shop, where they are available in abundance.)

This is Jana Trent’s eLoomanator’s Diagonal Knit Dishcloth, available free on Ravelry. It has excellent texture through the middle section where it’s needed most.

spacloths yellospa This next one is Maggie Radcliffe’s Chinese Waves Dishcloth, another time-tested pattern available free on Ravelry. I don’t know what this great textured stitch has to do with China, but the waves part sort of makes sense.

wafflesChinese Waves doesn’t have the tidiest edges. And without a very steady tension on the slipped stitches the waves will break every once in awhile. But what the heck, it’s a dishcloth. It’s going to be used to muck around in all that crud we wash off our dinner plates.

bluewaffle These two are Anne Mancine’s Spa Day Facecloth. The pattern is free, as with all the cloths I knit in this set.

washclothes “Spa Day Facecloth” makes it sound so fancy. But this reversible stitch pattern will work just as hard as the rest for mucking around in the dinner detritus.  Here’s a closer look.

yello_spa2 This next set is Nina Bank’s Krissy’s Dishcloth. Only 14 Ravelers have knit this pattern and posted it on Ravelry. But it’s one that merits a second look if you’ve passed it by for some reason.

two_krissy It’s the only one I knit in Lily’s “Ombre” shades. This one is “Faded Denim.”

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I don’t think this next dishcloth is necessarily the star of the set. But the slip-stitch work was definitely the most fun to knit. It is Linoleum Dishcloth, by Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting blog fame.

lino_dishI don’t know what that extra line of blue is doing in there. The pattern calls for a tri-color treatment and my Sugar ‘n Cream was pretty much creamed by this point. So I tried for a 2-color. It went a bit rogue.

Here’s its mate, also not a wildly wonderful aesthetic success. Apparently using up the remaining oddments of two shades of ombre and one solid shade aren’t the best way to go on this pattern. If you look closely, though, you’ll see I ditched that extra line of solid color between the hourglass rows.

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Next time, my linoleum is going to get a three-color solid treatment. It will have a great retro look. But these will get the jobs done. And that’s mostly the point of dishcloth knitting.

Muskrats and other critters

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We recently spotted this muskrat gathering his salad fixins’ early one morning in Ghost Bay. This critter is a rodent, but he’s no rat. According to Wikipedia, muskrats are the only species in the genus Ondatra. They are adaptable and omnivorous, rather ratlike actually. But they aren’t a member of the rattus club.

Muskrats are most active at night, and near dawn and dusk. But we’ve been seeing quite a bit of activity on Long Lake at other times as well.

This little guy was puttering about one morning, around 10 o’clock, very near our cottage in the first bay on the east side of the big lake after you leave the narrows.

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It’s been critter central lately on Long Lake.

This painted turtle was stationed at the south end of the narrows sunning himself on the log on the east side. You know the spot since you know the lake. Turtles have been sunning themselves on that log for many years. Not this guy, though. This guy was sort of tea-saucer sized and must be fairly young.

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By now, most Long Lakers have met our lake’s new loon chick, shown here near one parent while the other one dove for breakfast.

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The 4th of July weekend on Long Lake must be a major challenge for loon chicks. This little one made it through to Sunday, so the power boaters and tubers must have been on the lookout. Parent and chick were very relaxed as we paddled by early in the morning on our way to Ghost Bay. This photo was taken with a long lens, but the parent was aware of us and still didn’t yodel an alarm or go into vulture pose.

What a great time to be at the lake!

Knitting Cowls when it’s too hot to wear them

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This is Allison Goldthorpe’s Ziyal, a free cowl pattern available on Ravelry. I knit mine in one of my all-time least favorite yarns to work with, Berroco Lustra. I had enough left over from my Walkover Wrap to complete this cowl. Giving Lustra the bit of credit it deserves, if you get through your knitting and soak it in a wool wash afterward, the garment ends up with a great comfy feel and good drape.

Ziyal uses what Goldthorpe calls a smocking stitch. The stitch is very easy to work and Goldthorpe’s blog has an excellent photo tutorial to help guide knitters. I know it as bowtie stitch. The pattern staggers the smocking by moving the end-of-round marker 4 stitches after each set of rounds that make up the pattern repeat. Clever.

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If you have any difficulty with the smocking stitch, I prepared this video “how to” that should help.

Ziyal is the Black Sheep Knitting Guild‘s selection for our July Knit-a-long. It’s a quick, fun knit. Just the thing, if you’re me, for knitting when the weather gets hot and muggy. Just knitting something for next winter cools me off.

This next cowl is Stephen West’s great Windschief pattern, knit as a cowl instead of a hat. I am a big fan of close-fitting cowls.

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Here’s a better look at the spiffy construction.

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That swath of twisted rib puts just enough zip into an otherwise very simple pattern. This Windschief is knit in Berroco Worsted Weight Ultra Alpaca, a wonderful yarn in zillions of solid and heathered colorways.

This will be just the ticket for chilly mornings paddling to Ghost Bay come fall.

Knitting hats when it’s too hot to wear them

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I knit warm hats year round. It’s never too warm to try one on. And it’s not like the knitting needs to rest on your lap.

This is Shilling, Chris Terramane’s contribution to the free pattern library. Shilling is available on Ravelry and on Terramane’s Simply Savvy blog. The pattern alternates garter stitch and stockinette squares and columns of what the designer aptly calls “purl-sandwiched” cables.

The directions include a variety of sizes, both child and adult. Directions are given for knitting flat (but don’t do that–why deal with the seam) and in the round.  The chart is super-sized and very easy to read. Wonderful!

My Schilling is knit in Plymouth Yarn Galway Worsted. Here’s a view of the top decreases.

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This next hat is yet another version of Melinda VerMeer’s great pattern, Bayfront. It’s knit here in  Saki, by Prism, a wonderfully springy 75% merino 25% nylon fingering weight.

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I modify the pattern to lengthen the hat and create a folded brim. Whether you knit the original version or add the folded section to warm up the ears in your vicinity, this is one great pattern. I’ve knit Bayfront six times now. The star of this knit is the top decreases.

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Bayfront is available in VerMeer’s Ravelry store.

Another fav is Stephen West’s Windschief. This is also a multiple knit for me. This time I knit it in Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lana D’Oro, a 50% alpaca 50% wool worsted weight. It’s a tad hairy for my taste, but it’s still very soft and not a bit scratchy.

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My glass head doesn’t wear this hat very well because, time for a confession, I ran out of yarn and ended up abbreviating the length. So this Windschief is child-sized. I’ve knit Windchief as a hat before. But it’s also a seriously great close-fitting cowl. You just stop before the crown decreases and bind-off “early.”

It’s been much warmer lately in Michigan. So, for this twisted knitter, it’s time to knit hats.

Wild Blue Flag Iris

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Meet Iris Versicolor a/k/a Blue Flag Iris a/k/a Northern Iris. It was growing in late June right where all the books say it should be growing, along the water, in clumps of tall, sword-like leaves. These were on the west side of the upper lake, sort of midway between the island and Ghost Bay.

These iris grow from rhizomes, thick roots that grow horizontally. The rhizomes contain iridin, a toxic substance that has been known to poison people and animals. You’d have to eat the rhizomes, though. I’m not tempted. And the sap, well it can cause dermatitis.

So, don’t eat Blue Flag Iris. Don’t touch it either. Just let your eyeballs enjoy it.