Easy Colorblock Knitted Washcloths (or Dishcloths)

Easy Knitting Colorblock Washcloths-6 designs shown

Whether you use them as dishcloths or as washcloths, knitted squares are a useful and popular project for knitters of all skill levels. Who doesn’t love a beautiful, soft hand-knit cloth to pamper their face, or a cute and sturdy cloth for that thankless chore that is kitchen cleanup?

This collection of six knitted washcloths (or dishcloths) helps you brush up on your knitting skills.  Links to video tutorials help you with unfamiliar techniques. 

Easy Knitting Colorblock Washcloths or Discloths-6 designs shown

With these patterns, knitting garter stitch was never so rewarding! Relax into the meditative rhythm of all-over knit stitches and enjoy the beauty of color. 

Beginning knitters will be comfortable knitting stripes, then progress to knitting on the bias. After that, step up to the joy that is a mitered square. Garter stitch intarsia techniques take you from beginning to intermediate skills in easy steps. There’s no purling needed!

This post contains affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra. Many thanks to Trailhead Yarns, who provided the yarn for this project. 

Easy Knitted Colorblock Washcloths by Edie Eckman- rolled up

The free pattern for the easiest cloth, Team Colors, is presented below. Buy a printable downloadable pdf of all six patterns, and knit your cares away.

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The Yarn

Use a cotton or cotton-blend fine- or light-weight yarn to make these soft and absorbent projects. The pattern calls for five colors, so this is a perfect time to try out a colorful pack of mini skeins!

Basket of 5 colors of yarn ready to knit

For the cloths pictured I used Trailhead Yarns Appalachian Trail Yarn Crew mini-skeins. Appalachian Trail is 65% cotton, 35% nylon. I used about 108 yds [99 m] each of five colors to complete all six washcloths. 

Other knitters who tested the pattern had good success with Cascade Ultra Pima Fine, Ultra Pima DK, or Premier Yarns Cotton Fair.


Finished Dimensions

The finished size will vary based on the yarn and needles you use, and your particular gauge. The washcloths shown measure about 6 3/4″ [17 cm] square. 

Size is not crucial in this project, but if you substitute yarns, choose a needle size that results in a fabric that is not too dense and not too loose.

Easy Colorblock Washcloths arranged in a basket

Materials

Fine-weight yarn: approximately 40 yds [36.5 m] each of two colors (Color A & Color B) for the Team Colors cloth below.

US size 2 [3 mm] knitting needles or size to obtain appropriate gauge

Gauge

30 sts and 22 rows = 4″ [10 cm] in garter stitch in fine-weight yarn

See note above about gauge.

Instructions

Team Colors

With Color A, long-tail cast on 50 stitches.

Rows 1-23: Knit. You have 12 garter stitch ridges. Cut A.

Rows 24-75: WIth Color B, knit. You have 26 garter stitch ridges in B, Cut B.

Rows 76-99: With Color A, knit. You have 12 garter stitch ridges in A. 

Bind off. Weave in ends. 

What’s Next?

Knit: Basics & Beyond offers links to help you improve your knitting skills.

Check out these other easy knitting patterns:

My First Scarf
Easy Two-Toned Pillow
Quick & Easy Summer Placemats

Crochet a Grass Mat

Crocheted Grass Circle with Loop Stitch or Fur Stitch

Tired of that messy plastic grass in your Spring decorations? Wish you had some eco-friendly faux grass that you can use season after season? Crochet your own!

This crocheted “grass” circle can be made any size, with any yarn you have on hand. Use it to line an Easter basket or as a Spring centerpiece with your favorite flowers!

The loop stitch technique is based on single crochet. Watch the video for a tutorial on How to Crochet Loop Stitch (also known as Fur Stitch). I’ll show you three different variations, so you can choose.

This post contains affiliate links.

About the Yarn

Use any yarn you choose, with a hook in an appropriate size for your yarn. The Grass Circle pictured used one ball of Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice color 172 Kelly Green (100% acrylic, 3.5 oz [100 g], 170 yd [156 m]) .

Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn

About the Construction

The mat is worked in the round from the center out in continuous, un-joined rounds. Every other round is worked using the loop stitch single crochet technique.

Instructions for the Grass Circle are given below. A print-friendly, ad-free version includes instructions and charts.

Grass Circle Mat Pattern

Size & Finished Dimensions

Can be made to any size. The sample pictured measures 14″ [35.5 cm] diameter.

Materials

Worsted weight yarn (or any size yarn desired), approximately 170 yd [156 m] to make a 14″ diameter circle

Size I-9 [5.5 mm] crochet hook, or size needed to create a nice fabric for your yarn

Stitch marker

Gauge

Rnds 1-7= 4″ [ 10 cm]

Gauge is not crucial in this pattern.

Abbreviations & Special Stitches

ch: chain
Lsc (Loop single crochet): Hold working yarn so that it is coming from back to front over left index finger (right index finger for left-handed crocheters). Hold this finger approximately 1″ [2.5 cm] from the hook. Insert hook into next stitch, then move the hook clockwise (counterclockwise for left-handed crocheters) so that it comes over the front of the working yarn; yarn over with the strand of yarn that is coming from the back of the index finger; keeping index finger in place, pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook to complete a single crochet. Remove index finger from loop.
rep: repeat
rnd(s): round(s)
sc: single crochet
st(s): stitch(es)

Pattern Notes

Do not join at end of rounds.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Ch 1 (does not count as a st), 6 sc in ring—6 sts. Place marker in first st to indicate beginning of rnd and move marker up as you work each rnd.

Rnd 2: 2 Lsc in first st, 2 Lsc in each st around—12 sts.

Rnd 3: Sc in first st, 2 sc in next st, [sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] around—18 sts.

Rnd 4: 2 Lsc in first st, Lsc in next 2 sts, [2 Lsc in next st, Lsc in next 2 sts] around—24 sts.

Rnd 5: Sc in first st, sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st, [sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st] around—30 sts.

Rnd 6: 2 Lsc in first st, Lsc in next 4 sts, [2 Lsc in next st, Lsc in next 4 sts] around—36 sts.

Rnd 7: Sc in first st, sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st, [sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st] around—42 sts

Rnd 8: 2 Lsc in first st, Lsc in next 6 sts, [2 Lsc in next st, Lsc in next 6 sts] around—48 sts.

Rnd 9: Sc in first st, sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st, [sc in next 7 sts, 2 sc in next st] around—54 sts.

Continue in this manner to increase 6 stitches every round until piece is as large as desired, ending with an odd-numbered round. Weave in ends.

For more detailed instructions for Rounds 1-23, plus a stitch chart, buy the ad-free printable pattern.

What will you use your “grass” for? Share photos on my Instagram feed, using #edieeckman!

Yarn-Themed Gift Wrapping

Cable-knit gift with crocheted heart

We have a lot of February birthdays in our family, and I’ve found the perfect wrapping paper to cover all those gifts. Lion Brand Yarn has made some of their most popular knitting and crochet fabric designs into gift-wrapping paper.

Lion Brand provided a couple of rolls for me to try out; the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Artisan Gift Wrap

Lion Brand granny hexagons gift wrapping paper

Lion Brand’s Artisan Gift Wrap comes in six vibrant patterns. There’s a classic natural-colored cable knit, bright hexagonal grannies, jewel-toned knit chevrons, funky crocheted stripes, retro all-over grannies, and knitted tumbling blocks.

Lion Brand Yarns tumbling blocks pattern gift wrap

The patterns and colors are appealing and they are neutral enough for any occasion, age or gender. You don’t have to buy different birthday, holiday, wedding, or baby paper. One paper will suffice for all your gift-giving needs. And the best part, since I can’t decide which is my favorite pattern? They offer a 6-pack assortment, so you can get one of each pattern!

Each roll contains 22.5 square feet of paper.

Wrapping with Artisan Gift Wrap

Wrapping gifts is not my favorite activity, but this paper makes it a bit better. The medium-weight paper is heavy enough to make it easy to wrap without tearing or wrinkles. However, it’s not so heavy that it’s hard to manage. The images are crisp and clean. It really does look like yarn!

Posters of knit and crochet fabric

The paper is actually heavy enough to use for something other than wrapping. Foam core + spray adhesive + artisan gift wrap = low-cost wall decor for my studio.

box wrapped with cable-knit paper

I wrapped a large box with the Dancing Cables gift wrap , then added ribbon and a crocheted heart I made from a super-bulky yarn. The weight of the paper made it easy to handle.

Soft gifts wrapped with Lion Brand granny-square paper

Here are a couple of soft and squishy gifts I wrapped with the MOD Granny Squares giftwrap. I tied them together with some Vanna’s Choice yarn, which just happens to match the green in the paper exactly. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Although I can’t knit or crochet gifts for everybody, I can show my love for yarn-y crafts when I use this lovely wrapping paper. It’s not my fault if I raise a few false hopes of hand-crafted contents, right?

Gifts for Knitters & Crocheters

For ideas that your favorite knitters and crocheters, check out 12 Gifts for Knitters & Crocheters and Stocking Stuffers for Knitters & Crocheters (that they’ll love all year).

Free Crochet Pattern: Easy Heart Hat

Easy Crochet Heart Hat

Wear your heart on your head with this easy beginner crochet pattern for Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year.

Easy Crochet Heart Hat
Adult size hat shown in white with red heart. Child size shown in red with white heart.

The hat is worked in joined rounds from the top down in joined rounds. The heart appliqué is crocheted separately and sewn on.

This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

This free pattern is sized for babies. An ad-free paid version includes sizes for baby, child, teen/adult small and adult medium/large, and includes a crochet symbol diagram for the heart. This pattern uses American crochet terms.

Buy the Printed Pattern Button

Materials

Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn
Craft Yarn Council Icon for 4 Medium Weight Yarn





About 90 yards [85 m] of medium weight yarn in a main color and about 10 yards [10 m] in a contrasting color.

Red Heart Soft Yarn

The hats pictured used Red Heart Soft yarn in Off-White and Cherry Red. (Really Red is another good choice.)

Size H-9 [5 mm] crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge

Abbreviations

CC: contrasting color
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
hdc: half double crochet
MC: main color
rep: repeat
rnd(s): round(s)
RS: right side
sc: single crochet
st(s): stitch(es)
tr: treble crochet

Size

To fit baby
Finished circumference 14 3/4″ [35 cm]; hat fits with negative ease

Gauge

Rnds 1-2 = 2¾” [7 cm]
13 dc and 7½ rounds = 4″ [10 cm]

Instructions

Heart

With CC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3, (3 tr, 3 dc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 tr) in ring, ch 3, slip st in ring.

Rnd 2: Ch 3, sc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, hdc in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, (sc, hdc, sc) in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, hdc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, sc in next tr, ch 3, slip st in next slip st.

Fasten off.

Hat

With MC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc throughout), 11 dc in ring, join with slip st to top of ch-3—12 dc.

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—24 dc.

Rnd 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—36 dc.

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.

Rnds 5-10 : Ch 3, dc in each dc around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.

Next rnd: Ch 1, sc in each sc around, join with slip st to first sc.
Rep last rnd 3 (4, 4, 5) more times.

Fasten off. Weave in ends. Sew heart onto center front of hat, using photo as a guide.

More Projects

I love to crochet hats! Check out my Avery Hat and the Sunset Hill Hat.

Looking for more heart-themed projects? Knit the Hearts All Around Hat or try out the Thread Crochet Heart Necklace.

St. Distaff’s Day

Pietro_Antonio_Rotari, Young Girl with Distaff

Distaff Day, or St. Distaff’s Day, occurs on January 7. The twelve days of Christmas are over, and it’s time to get back to work, for real.

Distaff Day is a way to recognize and celebrate women’s work in the home. Spinning was hugely important throughout history, and in European traditions it became synonymous with women’s work.

Pietro Antonio Rotari-Young Girl with Distaff

Today, some spinners celebrate January 7 as a kind of event, getting together for spin-ins and other fun.

Even if you’re not a spinner, I think it’s good to stop and think about all that unrecognized work that women have done to keep generations of people clothed. If you work with any kind of fiber to create fabric, you are doing the same thing. And we don’t need to be gender-specific here. Let’s recognize and celebrate all fiber crafts done by everyone!

What is a Distaff?

A distaff is a tool used to hold unspun fibers. The fiber is loosely wrapped around the distaff. The distaff can be held under the arm when drop spinning, or attached to a spinning wheel.

Man and Woman with Distaff
From 1941. Notice the woman and walking and spinning. [FOTO:FORTEPAN / Schwertner Ágnes, Woman, man, double portrait, street view, moustache, distaff, weaving, hat, village Fortepan 73437, CC BY-SA 3.0]
Woman spinning from distaff
1907 German postcard, spinning flax

There are different styles, but a basic distaff is simply a smooth stick with a finial of some sort. Russian-style distaffs look more like boards, and can be highly decorative.

collection of Russian distaffs
Russian Distaffs [shakko, Russian distaffs 01 (Ferapontov), CC BY-SA 3.0]

Who was St. Distaff?

Nobody. There wasn’t an saint, or even a person. (My opionion? The name probably came about because it is the “13th day of Christmas” and somebody back in history was trying to be clever.)

The 17th Century poet Robert Herrick wrote about shenanigans that happened on “S. Distaff Day”.

Saint Distaff’s Day, or The Morrow After Twelfth Day

Partly work and partly play
Ye must on S. Distaff’s day:
From the plough soon free your team,
Then come home and fodder them.
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow;
Scorch their plackets, but beware
That ye singe no maidenhair.
Bring in pails of water, then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give S. Distaff all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good-night;
And next morrow everyone
To his own vocation.

If you’d like to read a bit more about the history of St. Distaff’s Day, and spinning in general, check out these links:

Saint Distaff’s Day
Chambers Book of Days

Back to Work

To celebrate St. Distaff’s Day, I suggest you pick up your favorite fiber tools, gather some fiber (already spun yarn counts!) and get back to work.

6 Crafting New Year’s Resolutions I Can Keep

6 Crafting New Year's Resolutions I Can Keep
6 Crafting New Year's Resolutions That I Can Keep graphic

Conventional wisdom says that sharing New Year’s resolutions with someone else is supposed to keep us accountable and thus more likely to achieve success.

I’ve come up with 6 reasonable and sustainable goals for my crafting life in the New Year. With your help, I think I can achieve them. Who wants to join me with these New Year’s Resolutions?

This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

Resolution #1: Allow My Yarn to Mature

Resolution #1 Mature Yarn: skein of natural-colored Candide Yarn
This classic yarn has been in my stash for many years.

Not all yarn needs to be used immediately. Sometimes it needs to age until it is ready to reach its full potential.

This process may take years. Since yarn doesn’t go bad if properly cared for—in moth-proof storage, for example—there’s no time limit on when it must be used. I have yarn that is more than 25 years old. It’s still a nice color. It’s still wool. It just hasn’t decided what it’s going to be.

My yarn stash serves as high-quality housing insulation.

I resolve to not stash bust this year.


Resolution #2: Allow My Yarn Stash to Grow

Resolution #2: New yarn from Stunning String Studio
Who wouldn’t want this beautiful pink yarn from Stunning String Studio? And some cute stitch markers, too?

Forget “yarn diets”! They just make me feel guilty about buying new yarn. Yarn doesn’t have calories and it doesn’t make me fat, so why should I diet?

Instead, I want to embrace the joy that purchasing a beautiful new yarn brings: the expectation of a future project; the zen of repetitive motion as colorful fiber slips through my fingers; the prospect of unlimited options.

Budapest Yarn Shop
I bought souvenir yarn with my last forints in this shop in Budapest.

Yarn makes an excellent travel souvenir. Every time I see that ball of yarn I bought in Budapest, I remember the adventure I had finding the yarn shop. I couldn’t read the street signs, the store was on a small street away from any tourist areas, and no one around spoke English (or Spanish or French, which were other languages I tried). When I found the shop, we all had a marvelous time visiting and admiring each others’ work, despite some pretty significant language challenges. They helped me figure out how many forints I could spend and still have enough change to take the tram back to the boat. If I had been on a yarn diet, I would have missed that entire experience!

I resolve to buy more yarn this year.


Resolution #3: Allow My Yarn to Range Free

Resolution #3 messy studio space with free-range yarn
The sad truth is that my studio is never Instagram-worthy.

Some people like a very tidy desk, a very tidy house, and a very tidy studio. I am not one of those people. While I like a neat kitchen, living room and bedroom, when it comes to my creative spaces, “tidy” is not a word that any one would use.

When I’m being creative, I want to see things out in the open. As I sit and crochet with one yarn, I like to let my eyes rest on other yarn that I have yet to use. I allow my mind to wander and dream of my next project. If everything is tucked away from sight, I can’t do that. I prefer free-range yarn.

I resolve not to organize my stash this year.


Resolution #4: Allow Some Yarn to Depart

Resolution #4: bag of yarn to donate
Not all yarn needs to live at my house.

This resolution may seem at odds with Resolutions #1 and #2, but it’s not. I do have a finite amount of storage space, and an even more finite amount of open (free-range) space.

Sometimes as yarn matures, it tells me it needs to leave the house and spread joy elsewhere. (Infrequently, it tells me this the moment it arrives at my house, but often it takes a bit longer.)

Maybe the color is not my thing, or the fiber content. Maybe I swatched with it and just couldn’t get it to behave in the way I wanted it to. These are the yarns that are ready to spread their wings and depart my nest.

There are plenty of people who would love my unloved yarn. I’ve given to senior centers, elementary and middle schools, and church groups, and they are always happy to accept donations.

I resolve to give away yarn this year.


Resolution #5: Use the Best Tools

Resolution #5: Circular knitting needles stored in The Circular Solution
I don’t love every single one of these needles. It’s time for some to find a new home.

I have a lot of crochet hooks, and even more knitting needles. I have tape measures in every drawer and project bag.

However, some of those tools aren’t the greatest. Needles may have blunt tips or sticky finishes that I find annoying. A few circular needles have a catchy cable-to-needle join. Certain brands of crochet hooks don’t fit my hand and make crocheting awkward and uncomfortable. A couple of those tape measures are surely stretched out and faded.

Some of these items should be discarded entirely, while others would be perfect for another crafter. Why am I keeping these tools?

I resolve to use only tools that make my crafting more enjoyable.

Resolution #6: Practice Safe Crafting

Resolution #6: Knitting Comfortably cover

If I want to keep knitting and crocheting for years to come, I need to take care of my body. This means avoiding repetitive stress injury, getting up and moving instead of sitting at my computer and behind my needles/hook. It means getting sufficient full-body exercise. It means using a body-friendly bag when I go to teaching gigs, fiber shows and shopping sprees. It means paying attention to proper lighting, keeping my yarn and electrical cords out from underfoot, and more.

These are not new resolutions to me, but it helps to remind myself of them. One of my go-to resources for reminding myself of these things is Carson Demers’ excellent book Knitting Comfortably. (Read my interview with Carson.)

I resolve to pay attention to crafting ergonomics this year.

Final Thoughts

Of course, I could make more traditional goals that would make me more organized, tidier, and maybe even more financially responsible. But I probably wouldn’t keep them, and that failure would just make me feel bad.

I’m content with the way things are, and these goals fit into my lifestyle this year. If they don’t fit into yours, that’s fine. Perhaps you need to save money and thus should use stash yarn all year. Maybe an untidy crafting spaces gives you the creeps, or UFOs make you nervous. Perhaps your living space doesn’t allow for more yarn.

Embrace what works for you, and set your goals accordingly. This fiber-crafting thing is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Make it so.

What about you? What are your goals for the New Year?
Share in the Comments below.