Thursday, September 06, 2007

This may look like an innocent dishcloth....

So I know you are thinking to yourself, "is she actually going to post a picture of another dumb dishcloth?"... The first and simple answer to that would be, "Why yes, of course I am! I love to knit dishcloths because they make me feel accomplished when I'm really not, and give me the warm, fuzzy feelings of an actual FO, which is something that seems to have become somewhat of a rarity around here.

But wait! There's more to this dishcloth than it may appear! Though it may seem lowly and simple, this dishcloth turned out to be the world's most complicated dishcloth to me to complete, for reasons I will explain after I show the picture....

This is called the 4-corners dishcloth, and the pattern can be found here. For most knitters, a simple dishcloth knit with short-row technique--a snap, right? Around here, not so much. The pattern looks simple enough, and I have done some plain short-rows before, so I started knitting happily, glad to have a simple pattern to work on. As I rounded the first corner, I noticed a disturbing feature---a gaping row of holes between the rows when you knit back down the second half of a corner.

Hmmmm....kinda ugly, but I kept going to see how it would look. After rounding the second corner, decided it was really bad and it must be due to my sucky knitting skills, so ripped that one out.

On the second one, try as I might to pull tightly at those areas where the corner halves join, I was still left with rows of what I would say were some unsightly rows of pretty large holes. Ugh. If you take a look at the gallery of these cloths made by others and click on some of the pictures to get a closer look, you can see there are some that have some sorta small holes, some have big, gaping holes, and others look perfectly hole-less and lovely.

At this point, not being a very clever girl, I emailed the pattern author to see if I was missing something in the pattern to have such large holes occur. Unfortunately, her answer to me was basically, "hey, it's just a dishcloth---don't worry about it!" Hmmph. Being a very stubborn girl this was not the answer I wanted to hear, so I was going to figure out how to get rid of those holes if it kills me. The dishcloth has now become a daily experimental project.

I decided that the knitters of those other hole-less cloths must be using a secret technique with which I am not familiar. I often see posts about short-row heels on socks, but have never done any myself. It dawned on me that the wrap & turn technique that I so rapidly skip over when I see it in print because it confuses me, was probably the answer to my problem.

Okay, so I guess if I want to finish the damn dishcloth, I now had to drag out all of my available resources and try to learn to do the terrible and avoided wrap & turn technique used for short-row heels, and try to learn it from a book. I'm going to finish this dishcloth, sans gaping holes, if it kills me!

Thus was born the third and fourth attempts as the same simple little dishcloth, while learning to wrap & turn with my short rows. The picture is of my fourth attempt. The technique is not perfect, and hell, I don't even know if I did it right (learning 3D technique from a flat picture rather than another human is not my strong point...). To add to my confusion, there are different directions in different resources to do the same thing. However, as for getting rid of the gaping holes between the halves of the short-row corners---mission accomplished!!

Oh, and don't look too closely at that kind of wiggly line running up the center top of the dishcloth. That would be my attempt to both learn and carry out Kitchener stitch done to join two garter stitch rows on a long row of stitches! For the record, I have a hard enough time keeping regular Kitchener straight without mistakes to get through 8 stitches at the bottom of my socks. Trying to match garter stitch from the wrong side over 19 stitches was a little more challenging! It's not perfect (I said don't look too close!) but I did finish it and dishcloth, and it looks pretty cute in person!

So in review, this simple and humble dishcloth was, for me, simultaneous learning lessons in short-rows, wrap & turn technique and Kitchenering done for garter stitch. And I finished it without throwing it across the room or setting it on fire! You never know what you're gonna get when you assume something will be simple!

The funny part is, I probably would have avoided learning the wrap & turn thing forever if it weren't for the fact that I am so stubborn that I couldn't stand the thought of being defeated by a dishcloth! The same goes for learning to do Kitchener on garter stitch over 19 stitches---who the hell would volunteer to do that unless they were either crazy, or it was needed as the only way to finish the dumb thing without a seam in the middle?!

Seriously though, after I got the hang of it, this dishcloth was actually pretty fun to knit and it went along pretty quickly for being a learning tool. I can't say I'm crazy about doing Kitchener on garter stitch, especially since I'm left handed and have to work backwards to do it, but it was a good learning opportunity as well. I also think the lack of elasticity of the cotton yarn probably made it a little more challenging. I'll probably make another one some time....later. But I do think I'll be a little less shy about attempting those short-row sock heels now, which is a plus.

Though, to all of you out there who have done short rows with wraps & turns, (which is probably almost everyone except me), can you please let me know if it looks like I did it right, because I still have no idea!! All of the directions I could find assumed alternating rows of knit and purl while doing the short rows, rather than continuous garter, so I'm still a little fuzzy about that whole part about which way to knit the wraps with the stitches. But the holes are covered, so I'm thinking I was close....?