Seed stitch dish cloths

I discovered a few years ago that the world’s best dish scrubbers are handmade with inexpensive cotton yarn. But I’d always thought it was the bobbled crochet stitch that made them so great. Not so! I actually think that a seed stitch works even better for creating a grime-fighting texture. And I love the way my new dish cloths look, with a neat crochet trim in a coordinating color. They’re like tiny versions of the baby blankets I used to sell.

So here’s how you make them:

Seed stitch dish cloths

approx. 8-inch squares

Worsted weight cotton yarn in two colors
Size 7 knitting needles
Size G/6 crochet hook
Yarn needle

With the knitting needles, CO 33 stitches with the main color. Work in seed stitch pattern (K1, P1) across the first row, and all subsequent rows until piece measures as tall as it is wide (should be about 7.5 inches). Bind off in pattern.

Starting on the right side of the BO row, insert the crochet hook into the top of any stitch and pull the second color through. Begin to SC a border around the entire edge of the piece, putting 3 SC into each corner. When you reach the stitch where you started, slip stitch through it, and then snip off the yarn. Weave in ends.

You’ll definitely want to block these to make sure they come out nice and square.

My first SF craft fair

So, A Fair to Remember was on Sunday. I was really nervous for my first time vending in San Francisco, but really excited to be in such a cute spot.

People kept stopping to photograph the mural behind me.

Though I was expecting chilly and windy weather, I ended up actually getting fried in the sunshine. Go figure.

Jack Kerouac alley was flooded with tourists, cute couples, older ladies from Chinatown, and just about everyone else you could pack into the space. I could not stop staring at this person’s laundry floating above us. Can you imagine having your undies out there?

I was reminded once again that crafty people everywhere are wonderful and supportive of each other. In this picture you can see Abi, one of the organizers, with her cute vintage wares, and on the left is Errol, one of the ‘soap guys’ from Metaphor Organic.

I ended up getting some man soap for Mike. I was intrigued by their explanation of the chemical process of making soap. Apparently most soap you see in stores in not actually soap!

I learned a lot and met a lot of people. I am inspired to try making some new accessories.

Oh, and I just had to share a photo of the band that played for about an hour. They were awesome! The Paper Dolls play a mix of new and old songs on their ukuleles.

I love them and their stripey socks.

Happy plants

I have a new addition to my little front porch garden — a cherry tomato plant.

I am so happy to see that not only did the herbs I planted survive, but they seem really happy. The mint is already out of control.

And the cilantro is shocking me by growing even better than the basil.

I’m working on some more planter boxes, which I’ll show you soon. Then I need to mulch a couple of bare areas, and the garden should be all finished. I love having a garden of manageable size.

I am also loving this hazelnut half and half that I accidentally bought.

I meant to get the regular kind, but it turns out I love this stuff. It’s like creamer, but it’s actually real cream, and organic. As long as I only put in a little splash it’s not too sugary either.

This box of crackers may have fallen into the cart as well.

I can’t help it. How cute is their packaging?

I have been working on another project, which I will share with you soon, involving some giant poufs. I’ve had to get creative with my dyeing process since I can’t use the washing machine (it breaks up the rope) and it’s hard to find a container big enough. But I figured it out.

It was really funny to see the dyed rope all rolled up in giant balls.

Now I have to get ready for my first California craft fair this weekend. I am really hoping for cool, but not rainy weather.

A Fair to Remember

I know I’ve said here before that one of my favorite places in San Francisco is Columbus Avenue, with all its cute Italian restaurants, and my favorite bar, Vesuvio.

Well, in a bit of serendipity I got a message on Etsy saying that once a month there is a craft fair in the little alley right next to Vesuvio (Jack Kerouac Alley), and would I like to be in it?

Um, hell yes!

It’s called A Fair to Remember, and the next one is Sunday, May 22. Here are the details:

I’m super excited about this. It’s my first chance to sell my poufs on the west coast, and I want to see how it goes over. I’ll have a lot of other home-related goodies including crocheted hangers and cup cozies, too.

I’ll also be participating in the June event on the 19th, and then I’ll be at the Renegade Craft Fair July 9 & 10. I’m a little overwhelmed at the prospect of getting prepared for that one, but hopefully the other two will help me get inspired!

Crochet color block blanket

I had a bunch of leftover yarn from a secret project (which I will tell you about later), so I got to thinking it would make an adorable blanket with blocks of bright colors.

The final version was just about big enough to cover my 4’x6′ rug.

Since I was using my leftovers, but also had to buy some new yarn, my blanket isn’t exactly perfect. But I’m pretty sure, putting this into a pattern, that you can make it with two skeins each of these:

Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe (55 percent bamboo, 45 percent wool) – Periwinkle (A), Geranium (B), Snapdragon (C), Mermaid (D), Twilight (E), Lipstick (F), Beach Glass (G), Mercury (H)

You need a J/10 size crochet hook.

Ch 152. DC across for a total of 150 stitches.

The stripe sequence:

8 rows A
4 rows B
2 rows C
7 rows D
4 rows E
2 rows F
7 rows G
3 rows H
5 rows C
4 rows B
5 rows F
Repeat once.

(In between I added 8 rows E plus 4 rows H, but that is optional).

I love the colors and the soft, fuzzy texture of this yarn. It’s just a happy blanket.

How to hem jeans

I have so few pairs of pants that fit anymore (but not much budget for new ones), so I was really excited when I found this pair of Zara jeans at a consignment shop for $14.

Just one problem. They were a tad too long.

But I bought them anyway, because I learned a few years ago that even someone as impatient as I am with sewing can hem their own jeans in less than half an hour for a cost of nothing.

See? This is an old pair of jeans that I hemmed myself.

When you look closely you can see the little line of not-so-expertly-sewn blue stitches. But I doubt anyone is going to bend over and examine your cuffs that closely.

So yeah. There are many ways to hem jeans. This is just how I do it.

First you put on the jeans so you can figure out where on your leg you want the bottoms to hit. Then you start folding the fabric, kind of pushing it up inside itself so that the new fold meets the little stitch line of the original hem.

Once you have both sides looking right, pin them all the way around.

Now, carefully, take the jeans off. The place where you folded the new hem will probably seem a little thick. So you want to iron it nice and flat.

Now you’re ready to sew. Choose a thread that matches the jeans as closely as possible. In my case, they were so dark I went with black.

You want to line up the new fold with the old hem as closely as possible so that you can still see the original hem stitches, but there is no space between them and the fold. Leave about an 1/8-inch space between the fold and your new stitches. It’s pretty simple. Just sew a straight line all around.

You’ll probably have to speed up your machine as you go over the bumps on the sides of the jeans.

Inside, you will see the fold, but outside no one will know it’s there.

The only time it’s an issue is if you want to roll up your cuffs, say to wear them with rain boots. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. You can also press this fold from the inside if you want it to lay a little flatter.

Top-secret hem line. Shhhh.

Oh, and one more thing. With most jeans the bottoms are a little bit wider around than the few inches above, so you may have to pinch your fabric a little to get it to line up correctly. This is no big deal. You just sew over it.

Voila, jeans that fit like they were made for you.

Introducing: giant knits

At long last, I am finally ready to show you the knits I’ve been making with giant rolls of cotton rope. The testing process has been absolutely exhausting and expensive, far more than I ever thought it would be. But the end result is super fun, and I can’t wait to show it off.

I have two new items in my Etsy shop. The giant pouf, available in white or gray.

And giant loopy rugs in two sizes, 36 or 48 inches.

In addition to looking cool, these feel amazing underneath your toes.

This was definitely an exercise in persistence. I started off with dye experiments and found that one type of rope took it much better than the other. I tried every kind of dye I could find, some waaay more toxic smelling than others.

So I bought a bunch of that rope, dyed it to perfection, and then realized that it would never work for the knitting. It was also really expensive, hard to find in bulk, and twice as heavy as the other. Fail.

Just the right sized spool.

So I ordered the other rope and started testing the knitting. I can’t tell you how many times I did and undid a rug trying to get the perfect gauge. I made my own needles. Those didn’t work so I spent more money on better ones.

I had an idea in my head what sizes I wanted to offer and at what prices, but that went out the window when I realized just how many thousands of feet of “yarn” it would take to achieve those.


Then when I moved on to big-batch dyeing I realized too late that my dyeing bin was way too small, so I got a pretty uneven result.

It was one fail after another, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Now I just hope people think these are as cool as I do.

Valentine’s Day garland

My friend Särah designed the cutest polka dot heart garland for Valentine’s Day, and she’s offering a free download so you can print them out, too.

I can’t wait to perk up my empty fireplace with this!

Double craft fair weekend

I’m knitting like crazy for two shows this weekend — my last two shows in Des Moines!

First up, Des Moines’ original indie craft show, Craft Saturday.

And then Sunday I’ll be doing the Green Gifts Fair. Last year’s fair was my best show ever, so I have high hopes for this one.

It seems too soon to shift into holiday gear, but I know people are breaking out their Christmas shopping lists already. So I will do my best to be ready.

Come see me at Market Day!

I found out last-minute that I was accepted into Market Day this weekend, so I just wanted to give you the information in case you can make it to the show.

Market Day is always a great time, and a good opportunity to swoon over other makers’ goods. Des Moinesians are so talented!