Friday, October 5, 2012

Fancy Towels

I've got something very special for you today. My guest is Natasja King from CROCHETIME. She's living across the pond and doing some very beautiful crochet. The title of her blog is a play on her famous crocheted clocks. You may see them at her Etsy shop Here. She is hilarious as you will see below with her references to categories of hand towels made famous by Monica of FRIENDS fame, and the way she explains everything. She is much more thorough with her photos and text than I am, but I am aspiring. (See first comment on previous post on Yarn Giveaway #3 below). I wish I could spend a least one whole day just crocheting and having tea with Natasja. I hope you enjoy her post here and will then become one of her followers. I've already invited her to do more guests spots, in fact I wish she would become my co-author. Here she is with a project made just for us.
(Every day, Guest, Fancy, Fancy Guest. Does this ring a bell? If you're a fan of Friends on TV it does. It's four of the eleven categories that Monica categorises her towels in. I'm going to show you how to change a "Every day" towel into a "Fancy Guest" towel. A towel Monica would be proud of.)
When I told my husband Boo asked me to do a guest post on her blog, I was 70% very excited and 30% worried as I didn't know what to blog about. I mean, it's the first time ever someone had asked to be guest blogger, and on the blog of a crochet teacher! Pressure much?!
Here's our conversation:
Me: "What should I make? Think up something new to crochet, or just do an essay type thing? Do a tutorial?Honey! What?!!?"
Husband: "You know how we have two sets of white towels? Why don't you do something to them so we can tell which set we're using? I've been meaning to ask you to do it for a while, so maybe you can do it for the blog thing?"
Me: "Ooh, honey that's a great idea! I can do a crochet edging on the towels!"
Husband: "I call dibs on blue and green."
Me: "We both like blue and green. So how bout I make the blue and green visa versa on both towels?"
Husband: "Fine by me. But make them so it feels nice."
Me: "Deal."
Thus this blog post was born.
I have loads of blue and green cotton yarn in DK and Aran weight. Perfect for cotton towels, so that's the colour sorted. The Aran weight would be great for bobbles "to make it feel nice". All I had to do was find a pattern.
I've had my eye on Robyn Chachula's Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia for a while now but never got round to buying it.... until now! If my blog was a money making blog, I would have deducted the book as a business expense.
Saturday morning, and I'm ready to go: towel, sharp needle, book, Rowan Handknit cotton in Sea Foam and Atlantic, Drops Paris in Pistachio, Stylecraft Cotton Classique in Sky Blue and White and a 5 mm crochet hook.

The first thing to do is blanket stitch all around the bottom seam of your towel so that you crochet stitches have something to attach itself to. I used white on the white towels as I didn't want to draw any attention to the blanket stitch.   There is an excellent step by step photo tutorial on how to make blanket stitches on Cherry Menlove's blog. Just click here.
To get the spacing even between the blanket stitches I used nature's perfect measuring tool: my finger. By all means, if you are so inclined, use a ruler but I just couldn't be bothered.

With the blanket stitches done, the next step is your first row of SC. The key here is EVENLY SPACED. That may mean two SC between the blanket stitches, or three, depending on the size of your crochet hook, the thickness of your yarn and of course how thick your fingers are (if you used my spacing method). In my case I mostly had two SC, sometimes three. If you try to squeeze in too many SC between blanket stitches your crochet edging will be wavy, so keep an eye on that.
The following two photos show you how to make the SC over the blanket stitches.

Before we go further, I have to refer you to the pattern I used. It's called Popsickle Spike. If you have Robyn's book, it's on page 14. Otherwise you can see the e-book version of the book on Google Books here.
We're referring to the pattern now, as Robyn says you need multiples of 6 stitches plus 5 to make the stitch count work. So when you're almost at the end of your blanket stitches go back to the beginning of the SC row and count how many SC you have to work out how many you need to make more, to get the multiples of 6 plus 5.
Popsicle Spike is basically a row of SC in colour A, followed by two rows of SC in colour B (Sea Foam green in my case), then a row of SC in colour A again, but in this row you work 4 SC, then two SC spike stitches. Spike qmeans you insert your hook in the SC two rows BELOW the row you're working in. It's actually very easy to do but looks terribly fancy. Here's how:
I've just finished the 4th of the 4 SC, ready to start my spike stitch:

Inserting my hook in the SC 2 rows below my current row:

Pulling the loop up. Remember that you're pulling it over two rows so be a bit slack with your feeding yarn:

Yarn over for my SC:

Pulled the yarn through, just like a regular SC:

The second spike stitch, just before I yarn over:

Second spike stitch done:

And, we're back to making four regular SC stitches:

The next bit of my crochet edging is just DC3tog, separated by a SC which makes for a cute bobble. You do it as follows. Yarn over, insert hook in next stitch, yarn over and pull up loop, yarn over, draw through 2 loops] 3 times (4 loops on hook as the picture below shows), yarn over, draw through all loops on hook.

The next bit of my crochet edging is the Popsicle Spike again. I used the light blue again for the first SC row. The next two rows of SC was done in Atlantic blue, with the spike stitch row in light blue for my last row.
And that's it! Do the same on the other side of your towel, and you're done.
This edging therefore consists of two Popsicle Spikes, seperated by a DC3tog bobble row. Easy peasy.
Above photo is the second towel with the colours mixed up a bit.
People, can I just say how easily this can be modified. Seriously. I was tempted to stop my edging after the first Popsicle Spike rows, it looked that good. Then I heard husband's voice in my head and knew I had to still do the bit "to make it feel nice", but you could easily stop there. Of course, you could just do a DC3tog row, and even repeat that row three or four times for a super bobbly edging or just do Popsicle Spikes. Play around and enjoy it!

Thank you again, Natasja, and a word of thanks for your hubby too.