Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This past weekend we loaded up the kids and went to see my dad in Georgia. Let me just pause a moment to say that the 2 1/2 hour drive with kids nearly killed me. Clearly I am going to need some sedatives when we make the trip to Oregon in about three{!} weeks.

Anyway, while there, my dad's wife showed me all the crocheting she'd been doing lately. She's only been at it for about a year, maybe even less, and has already made dozens of blankets, granny squares, and baby hats for her soon-to-be-born grandson. She said it's super easy once you get the hang of it, handed me some crochet hooks, and told me to go home and look up some videos online.

When I got home I looked up some videos (thank you knit witch), got out my craptastic yarn, and set to work. Here's what I have so far: Some thoughts/questions/complaints/grumbles about this:

*It will eventually be a dish cloth. Stop laughing, it will. I have spoken, it will be a dish cloth. I don't care what shape it's in when I declare it to be completed, I will be using it to wash dishes. By the way, that's a thing, right? Crocheted dish cloths? I know I've seen them around bloggy land but when I mentioned my plan to Jay he stared at me like I was nuts. Apparently, he just doesn't see my vision.

*I'm fully aware that it's rather ugly. While I've never crocheted before, I've been the recipient of some lovely crocheted work by much more talented people (Dani, to name one.) So I know what it's supposed to look like and I know my work is quite a bit off.

*The first row, when I was just doing the chain stitching, is awful. The next row is pretty bad too. But I feel like as I go on, my work gets a little bit better each time.

*Just learning the chain stitch, took me all yesterday morning. It got progressively easier after that.

*I think I make my stitches too tight. I mentioned this in an email to my dad's wife and she reminded me that I can always take my stitches out and re-do them. I did this. About a dozen times now. At this point I feel like I just need to keep working and then evaluate the finished project. Along that note, Dawn's actually taken a crochet class and her teacher said that it takes time to really master the tension aspect. I know a lot of you crochet, does that part get easier over time? Because right now I feel like my stitches aren't uniform. Some are loose, some are tight, etc.

*I'm not following any pattern. I know, shocking right? I found quite a few patterns that look manageable, but wanted to get the hang of the stitches before I really tried something for real.

*I had meant for this to be square. At best, it's going to be square-ish. In fact, the one end is kind of angled. Why is that? Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong just by looking at the above picture?

Even though my project isn't coming out as planned, I'm trying to not get discouraged because it's a very soothing and relaxing hobby and I like having something semi-mindless and repetitious to do while watching TV. Plus, I think this might be something I could do in the car to take my mind off the screaming chidren just inches from my ears. (Sadly, I can't read in the car- I get car sick.)

But yeah, anyone have any words of advice or helpful hints? Maybe book recommendations?


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

baby benadryl

Hotch Potchery said...

I don't really get washing dishes with something made out of yarn...it looks more like a hot pad to me.

I think anyone who can create a thing out of a package of string is pretty cool, whatever it is.

Tammie said...

peggy: i know....i wonder how much would be too much.

hotch: HA! thats exactly what jay said.

Dani said...

Crochet is perfect for long (or short) trips. That's how I learned. I was so bored while traveling with my grandparents that after about 500 miles I started watching Mema crochet. After 200 miles of that I decided to give it a whirl. 4 long days of road trip later I was doing a chain, single crochet, double, and treble.

Yes. You can make a dishcloth. But for it to really work you'll want to use 100% cotton yarn. They make the best cloths because they don't really get stinky and they are naturally "scrubby". I've made tons of crocheted dishcloths. They are like the coasters I sent you only larger.

Your work is a bit off...but that is normal and very fixable. Your dad's wife is right. You can always rip out. I've ripped out so many stitches...that's why counting is important. Your square is wonky because you are fitting in more stitches on certain rows than there were chain stitches. Very common mistake. One I still make unless I am careful about my counts.

Beginnners tend to crochet "tight". In fact, I think one's mood can affect the tension no matter how long you've been crocheting. That being said, it gets much easier to control as you gain experience. You just get "a feel" for it. You sense when you should tighten up or loosen things a bit.

Personally I don't think you should even consider a pattern. They are a whole new language...and right now you need to focus on the stitches. Work on making some swatches. I'd reccomend getting some cotton yarn (it's cheap) and making basic squares. You can use these as coasters when you are done.

The chain stitch. It's boring, but it's the foundation of everything. Without a good consistent chain, the rest of your work won't look as nice. I practiced the chain forever...I made many a chain "necklace". Then I moved to the single and then the double. If you have those two stitches you can do a lot. I know it's boring to just make practice swatches but it's worth it in the end. That's why I say make a bunch of coasters. You are doing an actual project but it's perfect practice.

Don't get discouraged. It gets easier and prettier.

I'm proud of you! And I'm always here for questions.

Tammie said...

dani: oooh thank you. i was hoping youd be able to help me out. everything you said makes perfect sense. i didnt even think to count my stitches to make sure i have the same amount each time. duh! i think i was just so excited to actually be doing it that i didnt think that far ahead.

i definitely think i need to practice my chain stitching more. a lot of mine looked more like knots than chains. i watched two online videos, one for the chain stitch and another for the single crochet stitch and i probably moved on from the chain stitch video too quickly.

thanks again for being so helpful!

Daphne said...

I think I learned to crochet... a LONG time ago. I have no idea how to do it anymore. However, I'm the queen of "i know one knit stitch and I am going to WORK that stitch" so I say, go for it! I routinely knit lots of scarves... one stitch, over and over and over. In pretty yarn.

Just have fun, who cares if it's ugly? Especially if it's going to be a dishcloth... hotpad... type thing.

As for the long drive, if benadryl or spiked juice doesn't work, you could try car bingo: http://www.momsminivan.com/printables.html.

kat said...

just so you know crocheted dish clothes get really really stinky. Especially if you live in a wet city like Portland. Beware of the mank!
Just found your blog yesterday,
I ♥ your irreverance.

kraftykash said...

Keep working at it girl! And yes, it will work as a dishcloth. It will be the best damn dishcloth ever! LOL

Tammie said...

daphne: thats my thinking too. i mean, im already the proud owner of some ugly dish rags. whats one more?

i think ill finish this one off just for the practice but then get some better yarn and take danis tips. maybe one day ill have a dish rag i can be proud of.

we're totally doing car bingo! we also like to hunt for jesus fish off the back of cars. (think punch buggy, only instead of VW bugs, jesus fish.)thats a game jay and ive been playing since before we were married.

kat: thank you!
excellent advice. so you're saying my nasty habit of using the same dish cloth for two weeks won't work with the crocheted ones?

Lia said...

For the crochet: I have The Happy Hooker book and it's easy to read and understand. I've been referring to it lately. I've been sporadically practicing never-ending chains (cuz Dani said so) and it is very boring. Which is why I don't do it very often. I've recently decided to try the granny, but it's way too hard to read the pattern on my own. I'm going to try these swatches/ coasters, I guess. I've *made* one before, but that was with Dani by my side and she finished off the edges for me. So basically, you and I are in the same boat.

For the car, this is our version of the Slug Bug game:

It's based on points and it's surprisingly fun. We all do it. And I get embarrassingly competitive about it.

slug bugs=1 pt
yellow cars=1 pt
Mini Coopers= 1pt
Smart cars= 4pts
if any of those cars above are convertibles= + 1 more pt
and if any of the slug bugs or mini coopers are yellow + 1 more pt
So a yellow slug bug convertible is 3 pts

Try it. I bet y'all will like it.

melissa s. said...

I am in the same knitting boat so unfortunately, no advice here. I crochet my dishcloths (100% cotton, only way to go).

hester said...

Have fun conquering your new croqueting accomplishments. I'm sure you'll be whipping up a bikini in no time.

Could you get a Harry Potter book (or whatever) on CD for the trip? Might give you, oh....half an hour of peace.

Anything Fits a Naked Man said...

I think it's just lovely! Good for you for trying! The only advice I can think of to give is to just keep practicing!

With me, if I'm away from it a while and then pick it up again, my stitches are always inevitably too tight and I need to re-learn how to relax! I usually figure it out!!

Good luck! I think you're doing great!!

Tammie said...

lia: ive seen that book and wondered if it was helpful. when i was trying to teach myself to knit, i bought the stitch and bitch book and it wasnt helpful at all, but also i think knitting's a lot more difficult than crochet, from what ive heard.

and i love your car game. thats definitely one we're going to have try.

hester: believe me, there will be NO crocheted bikinis in this house!

anything fits: thanks for the encouraging words. :)

Theresa said...

HA. I get car sick if I read too, which really sucks since I'd much prefer to read on a trip than crochet.

I learned from my aunt when I was 11 to pass the time on a visit to my grandparents in the middle of nowhere Lousianna.

I still crochet too tight.

Looks like you are dropping a stitch as you go up or adding one which is why it is pointy. I do that ALL THE TIME.

And who cares if you have a squarish, hunter orange, dish scrubby! If you actually finish it then you will be eons ahead of me and my mad crochet skills.

Tammie said...

theresa: HA! it is hunter orange isnt it?! this yarn is not nice. i bought it for the kids to make gods eyes with. after about three gods eyes they were done.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

You're killing me....I have lived through this too. It took me forever, but now I must have a hook in my hand just to get through the day. I drag mine everywhere, especially the car.

Just keep practicing and you will get the hang of it.

Are you using cotton yarn? That is the best for dishcloths. My daughter knitted a bunch of dishcloths using acrylic, but they don't work very well (I'd never tell her that, of course).

And, I rarely use patterns -- I just take a certain pattern / design and run with it.

Tammie said...

jodi: thanks so much for the advice. im always so inspired by what you make so i was hoping youd chime in with some words.

i really dont think this yarn is cotton. it certainly doesnt feel it. but yeah, im excited to go yarn shopping. up until now ive always avioded that section of the craft store. a whole new world is opening up to me.

Penny said...

I decided to teach myself to crochet when I went on maternity leave. I have a bigger fugly pot holder that was also supposed to be square but is more of a rhombus...That is the only thing I've ever crocheted..

Tammie said...

penny: i think my project might end up being the long lost twin of your project.

CT said...

LOL! I think it's great you are learning how to! if the stitch is too tight you might have some trouble later on (it gets hard on the hands), and you can easily solve it by switching to a larger hook.

for advice, go to About.com to the crochet section. It has helped me out several times with stitches and pattern reading and such.

The Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques by Jan Eaton is one of the books that I like the most if you are starting out, but most crochet books include basic instructions.

I also have the book 200 crochet tips, techniques and trade secrets, by Jan Eaton. It comes with patterns for several items displayed with the techniques.

But I would join with the rest and advice making swatches so you get the hang of it. Hey, who knows? maybe you have enough swatches soon to make a blanket! LOL!

hang in there girl! good luck!

Not Your Aunt B said...

I haven't got past the chain shoelace or my specialty, the chain belt-rope-thingy (like a shoelace but with more rows). I always miscount. One day...one day.

victoria said...

Love it, good for you!! ... how is this dish cloth coming along?