1. "My dishcloths aren't popping the way they should. Is there anything I can do?"
Yes! There are a lot of different ways to make sure that your cloths look the best. I'm going to go over the basics in this post to ensure that the finished cloth looks great for both gift giving and regular use.
2. "Should I really be using a US size 3 needle?"
Yes and no. It depends on how tight or loose you knit. I knit continental and always use a size 3 needle. I invested in a pair of addi turbos last year for my dishcloth knitting and designing. It was the best decision I made. With the addi's my hands won't hurt and my knitting is faster and significantly more even producing a better defined cloth. If you find that you are unable to knit with a smaller needle or don't have one available, you can use a different size and get a well defined cloth as long as your knitting is very even.
3. "The picture on the cloth is hard to see. I think my knitting is uneven, what can I do?"
If your seeing gaps in between the rows on the wrong or right side of your cloth you might be "rowing out". It's a common problem that affects many knitters. It is most obvious in stockinette or reverse stockinette and is caused when there is a different amount of tension on the yarn while knitting a stitch than while purling a stitch. The fastest way you can correct this problem is to use a different size needle for the knit rows and the purl rows. It may take some time to figure out which two to use though. People generally knit slightly tighter than they purl, but It could be the other way around. You might want to try tightening your stitches on one side or the other to see if there is an improvement. Blocking can also help equalize the tension in the stitches. It might be a few wash and dry sessions before the cloth is completely smooth in the stockinette areas.
I also try to knit an entire cloth in one sitting. I find that if I start and stop a cloth too many times that the stitches pull slightly on the needle for that particular row and create some unevenness when picked back up again. I move my knitting around so much because of the kids. Though I'm sure if it just sat still for awhile there wouldn't be too much of a tension problem.
4. What are the best colors and yarn to use for your dishcloths?"
I tend to use any cotton yarn I have around the house. It's kinda scary exactly how much I have stashed. I should take a picture to show you one of these days. You can use acrylic yarns as well but they are not as absorbent and could scratch some surfaces if you don't pay attention. Wool will obviously pill and felt if washed with hot water.
When it comes to colors your going to see the best results on a medium shade. Very light and dark colors may only show in the right light. Generally with dishcloths or any other picture design if light is directly overhead the picture may be hard to see unless your knitting is very even and the cloth is blocked after use.
5. How do you block your dishcloths?"
After I finish knitting my cloths I weave in all the ends and then soak them in warm water stretching the cloth slightly under the water to even out any tension problems. Then lightly ring out the water trying not to distort the shape too much. I tend to lay the cloths out on my counter top to dry shaping them into squares and pushing down all of the stockinette areas so that the purl bumps stand up. This makes a huge difference! There is no need to pin them and they dry in about an evening. I've only blocked the cloths I keep once or twice and then they go into the washer and dryer with the towels. they come out great every time!
6. What is the best way to photograph the finished cloths?"
After the cloths are blocked and dry I use natural light to my advantage to show the best picture. I will arrange them in front of a sunny window out of direct light. I like to photograph on sunny days to show colors in their true form. Not an easy thing with all of that rain we've been having. You can also use light from a lamp. Just be sure that the light is shining down on an angle from top to bottom to show the shaded areas from the purl bumps. Try to avoid using a flash because this can diffuse the stitch definition of knit and purl stitches.
I always try to take pictures in the morning, around 10am with light shining in from a south window. The later in the day it is, the more likely your colors may come out darker.
A few other things:
- Fact: The more use a cloth gets the more the design will "pop" over time.
- I actually do use the cloths I make for my kitchen and bathroom. The kids love to play with them in the bathtub and in the backyard. I don't manage to keep many sets though. I always have a reason to gift them.
- I use a Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera to photograph all of my cloths.
- I find most of my colors in A.C.Moore but I do frequent Michael's and Walmart as well. Sometimes a LYS will have a discontinued color and I'll quickly grab it. You can find most colors online or try the trade or sell feature on Ravelry to see if you can snag a deal.
- I design and love every bit of my cloths from drawing up a chart to writing the pattern to knitting, editing the pictures and graphically designing the pdf files from scratch in Adobe Photoshop. Every cloth and pattern is an original design.
- There are about 5 or 6 more sets for this year that I'm currently working on and of course, I'm really enjoying them.
I'm sure I forgot a few things but I didn't want to wait any longer to write this up and share some of the questions I get. Again if you have any other questions leave a comment and I'll answer it the best I can.
The Beach Cloths are almost done. Hopefully by the end of the week! I'm also working on a cute little non-dishcloth pattern for everyone.