What’s in the stash?

Over recent weeks I’ve been enjoying rummaging through my yarn stash and reminding myself of what I have squirreled away. There is some lovely wool, but there are also quite a lot of balls and oddments of stuff that I really have no desire to ever use… quite a bit of which has been passed on to me over the years, rather than stuff I actually bought. So, I’m putting together a box to go off to a charity craft shop (once they are in a position to accept it) and I’m working my way through some of the bits and pieces in a variety of projects like the dinosaurs. The last few days, however, have been all about cotton.

A while back I bought a couple of packs of discontinued organic cotton yarn. The colours were not ones that I would want for a garment, but since the point was to make wash cloths, that really didn’t matter. I also discovered a ball of actual dishcloth cotton, made from recycled fibres. So, in the spirit of play, I’ve been choosing various granny square patterns and crochet stitches and working up squares. On the basis that you can never have too many cleaning cloths in the bathroom and kitchen, I’m just keeping going. So far, no two are the same:

If you crochet and have a favourite pattern for making cloths, do let me know what it is… I’ve got lots of yarn and am always keen to try something different.

All washed up

For some time we have been struggling to find suitable, biodegradable washing-up equipment. Mr Snail (who does most of the washing-up) likes to use a brush. Most brushes for this job are plastic and the bristles get flattened very quickly, making them useless. First, I found a recycled plastic version with a replaceable head, but the quality was so poor that the head needed replacing after only a few uses. Then, I was delighted to find a wooden brush with natural plant-fibre bristles and replaceable heads. I bought one, along with spare heads, and we gave it a try. Sadly, the heads seemed to last only a short time too, were a less than ideal shape (round) for getting into all the nooks and crannies and repeatedly fell off the handle. Eventually Mr Snail refused to use them any more and returned to a standard plastic brush. The quest continues to find a washing-up brush that actually delivers all we need: a good shape, durable and made from natural materials.

Mostly, I prefer to wash up using a cloth. Crochet cotton cloths are fine unless you want some abrasion and my old abrasive cloth, which I have had for years but is very worn, is plastic (nylon possibly). I was happy, therefore, that Red Apple Yarn sells textured cotton dishcloth yarn and I just had to give it a go. I decided that a loose mesh was likely to prove most useful, and whipped up a crocheted dish cloth in double quick time. I tested it out this morning* and it does a good job, although is only a bit abrasive (it felt more so when I was working it up). For me this is likely to be a good option; for Mr Snail the quest for the perfect brush continues.


* I washed up because Mr Snail was still in bed recovering from yesterday’s 21-mile sponsored walk.

Off the hook

I try to use as little kitchen paper as possible for moping up spills and cleaning, but this can be quite demanding in terms of the number of cloths required. So, over the past couple of weeks I’ve been using up some of my cotton yarn to make these…

It’s also given me a chance to play with a few new stitches and enjoy some old ones.

Playing hooky

Today I’m supposed to be editing a paper on forest economics, but it’s not very exciting and so I keep picking up my crochet hook instead. The particular piece of editing does not need to be sent back until next week, so the temptation to do something else (and more creative, although less lucrative) is really strong, especially since the dragon neck warmer commission is starting to take shape and I’m rather enjoying the scale pattern that makes up the bulk of it:

Dragon scales

Dragon scales

The client selected yellow eyes, so those are inserted and there’s nothing fiddly in the pattern for about another 60 rows. My last post yielded some useful comments about having a few ‘attention grabbers’ on my future craft stall, and I may make another of these dragons for that purpose as I think it’s going to be quite striking. Anyway, here is progress so far (eventually there will be horns and spines too on the head):

Dragon progress

Dragon progress

But that’s not the only thing I have been up to in the past few days. I decided as  a bit of light relief to continue making dish/wash cloths (without patterns) and I’ve added two more to the stock, that’s three since Saturday. These are fairly quick to make and are using up cotton yarn that I have quite a bit of, so they feel like a winner in terms of de-stashing.

This week's cloths - too nice to use?

This week’s cloths – too nice to use?

And finally, I want to share a piece of work that I made weeks ago, but has only just reached its new owner. As one of my random crafts of kindness, I responded to Pauline The Contented Crafter’s appeal for lovely things to go to Marlene, who is ‘In Search of It All‘. This is what Pauline wrote:

Marlene has recently moved into her new forever home and has been hard at work turning what might have been described as a pigs ear into a silk purse.  Marlene has a china cabinet and loves keepsakes.  I am going to [possibly make and] send Marlene a small New Zealand icon.  Would you care to [possibly make and] send her something that will represent you to her so that every time her eyes fall upon your gift, she thinks of you. Wouldn’t that be the grandest thing!

So, what better to represent me than some crochet? But I also really wanted to send her a piece of my paper porcelain plus I  wanted to acknowledge the lovely links we all share through blogging. So here is what I came up with:

It’s just decorative, although you could use it as a pin cushion (voodoo roses, anyone?). The base is made from some British wool from Blacker Yarns and the crochet roses are made from some of the yarn oddments sent to me by Jenny at Simply Hooked along with the squares she donated to make another charity blanket. I’m rather pleased with the result.

Well, that’s probably enough hooky for one day, I’d better get back to work…

Stocking up and stashing down

Recently my friend Ann and I agreed that we’d like to do some craft fairs together. She has a big stock of unsold creations and I have been fairly unsuccessful with attempts to sell my stock via the web, so we think that working together we can fill a stall and have fun… not to mention making some money.

With this in mind I have been looking at the stock that I already have made up (bling bags, bath puffs, bird roosts) and thinking about the materials that I have in abundance. It’s clear that if I’m going to half fill a stall, I need more items and so I’ve decided to spend some time trying to convert materials into saleable goods. My first task is to look at the materials that I have. This includes interesting things that I had forgotten about like bag handles and dozens of card blanks and lots of yarn… especially odd balls and a left-overs from previous projects.

Scarf in SMC Argentina

Scarf in SMC Argentina

Probably the best thing to do would be to make an inventory of what I have and then plan the optimum use of all my material. But, it’s early days and this weekend I fancied doing some fairly mindless crafting. So, yesterday evening knitted up a ball of cream SMC Argentina yarn (which I was given) into a fancy scarf. I hate this sort of yarn with a passion – it’s not fun to knit, but it does work up quite quickly so I knew it would be done in an evening. The result is a ruffled scarf/boa that I don’t want to wear, but I’m sure someone will like. I’m not sure whether the neutral colour is a plus or a minus, but at least it will go with almost any other colour.

Too pretty for a dishcloth?

Too pretty for a dishcloth?

And then today I realised that I’ve got quite a lot of coloured cotton yarn that’s not ideal for knockers, but is perfect for facecloths/dishcloths. So, I made this jade green and cream circular cloth from the ends of a couple of balls (it’s about 25 cm/10 inches across). My plan is to try and make a few ‘stock’ items from my stash every week, so that when we find a suitable craft market, we’ll be all set to go. Now I’m just guessing what might sell well…


As a relative novice as regards crochet, I have recently wanted to explore some techniques and have a go at some design work. To this end I have been making ‘samplers’ that allow me to explore what I can do without a pattern to follow. Being me, however, I do like anything that I make to be useful, so some of these have taken the form of granny squares for the blankets we are making to raise funds for Denmark Farm Conservation Centre:

Purple squares

Purple squares

All of these squares need to be around 15cm across, so there is some limit to testing out larger patterns. Therefore, in addition, I have been making cotton squares that can be used as dishcloths or washcloths. These can be any usable size, which gives me the freedom to play around with larger patterns. So far, I’ve made four of them, but only three are photographed because the other one is rather grubby, having been drafted into use already:

Now, however, I must return to the Masterpiece and finish it off… only three more squares are expected (including one I must collect from Katie the Night Owl – soon I promise, Katie) and then I can edge it. Possibly not the ideal project for summer, but it can’t be helped.


A thing for string

Now string, unlike politics, is something I can have  a positive relationship with…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know about my love of string and you won’t be surprised to read that I was very excited about the prospect of using it for crochet. When my friend Sarah introduced me to dishcloth cotton a few weeks ago I was captivated, especially since she simultaneously gave me a pattern to knit a string bag complete with its own storage pouch built-in and forming the base of the bag. The pattern for this bag originates from the 1940s, but similar patterns can be found on Ravelry. My only problem to begin with was that my local yarn shop had sold out of dishcloth cotton, so I had to restrain myself. Of course I could have ordered some over the internet, but I stuck to my guns and waited until it was back in stock locally.

On Saturday I was able to buy some Stylecraft Craft Cotton (sounds much more fancy than dishcloth cotton) and away I went (putting aside the woolly yarn bag I was working on). Actually, I got distracted to begin with and made what may be the world’s fanciest dishcloth:

Just because it's a dishcloth doesn't mean it can't be lovely (no pattern for this, I just made it up)

Just because it’s a dishcloth doesn’t mean it can’t be lovely (no pattern for this, I just made it up)

But then I regained focus and made my very first string bag:

I suspect that it won’t be my last, although I will modify the pattern a bit next time. Plus, having got the feel of it, I now know that Sirdar Simply Recycled (a mix of cotton and acrylic) will be suitable, and I have several balls of that left over from previous projects.

Here in Wales, shops are no longer allowed to give out plastic bags for free, so there has been an increase in people having their own shopping bags. I can think of lots of folks who could make use of a few of these. And even where plastic bags are freely available, something like this is a much better option if you are trying to be sustainable.

%d bloggers like this: