Monday, December 16, 2013

Hand Made With Love


One thing that I've found as an early childhood teacher to be both humbling and a blessing is the number of families who make handmade gifts for their child’s teacher at this time of the year. That someone has poured their precious time and energy into a hand made gift for moi is a privilege that I cannot take lightly.

So why then do I feel like I'm opting out when I decide to make handmade gifts for those on my gift list? Is it because I feel that what I make doesn't ‘measure up’? Or is it because I know that in monetary terms it is not great? Yet isn't my time and energy as precious as those of others? Is it because I can't place a value on my time and energy that I deem my gift to be insignificant?

It’s interesting that I so often feel this way, so I guess it was with some trepidation and mixed feelings that I began making gifts this Christmas. After all, from past experience, it's likely that I'm going to end up feeling like a cheapskate - or worse. Yet even though the recipients haven't yet received their gifts, so far I'm feeling a little smug and rather pleased with the outcome.



Before I go any further I should point out that I do not make, sell or receive commission on the featured soaps from Blue Earth. In fact, I have yet to try these soaps. (I'm planning to in the very near future.) However the scent (divine!) and the gorgeous packaging of these soaps (and the delicious names like Fudgy Fig and Chocolate Vanilla) beautifully complement the handmade spa cloths (which is what this post is going to be all about if I ever get to it).

I have a few of these cloths that I made for myself in the distant past. They were originally intended for use in the kitchen until some male member of the family decided to use them to scrub my stove. They worked wonderfully for the task but, alas, they also developed several holes as a result. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I spend time and effort making something, I want it to last a little while and certainly a little longer than they had. So the surviving cloths got relegated to the back of the cupboard.

And there they stayed.

Until … a few weeks ago when I rediscovered them and decided to commission them for use in the shower. Oh bliss! I changed their name from dishcloth to spa cloth and now every time I use them I feel absolutely pampered.

I hope the recipients will feel the same.

In case you’re after some pampering, or know someone who is, I'm going to share the pattern I used. I wanted something a little more exciting than Grandmother’s Favourite, and loved Chinese Waves, but wanted something on the bias. I combined the two, and, as I discovered after I’d worked it all out, apparently I'm not the first to have had this brilliant brainwave. However, I think my method is slightly different to the ones I've seen online (including this one), so I'll include it here. That way you can pick and choose which pattern you’d like to use. Don’t be daunted by what appears to be quite a lot of pattern rows. It’s not really and after the first completed spa cloth, you'll probably find that you are able to knit without any pattern notes in front of you.

I used Sugar and Cream cotton yarn (the super size yields 4 cloths) and size 5.5mm needles (sorry, I don't know what the US conversion is). This was a size larger than the needles recommended as, in my experience, the ‘waves’ tend to tighten the tension/gauge. You can experiment with a needle size until you discover a fabric you like.

Cast on 2 stitches.
Next row: Knit front and back in first stitch, knit to end.
Repeat this row (you should now have 4 stitches on the needle).
Next row: Knit 2, yarn over, knit to end.
Repeat this row until 8 stitches.
Next row: Knit 2, yarn over, knit one, (slip one purlwise with yarn in back, knit one), repeat between ( ) until 3 stitches left, knit to end.
Next row: Knit 2, yarn over, knit to end.
Repeat last two rows until 44 stitches.
Begin decreases.
Next row: Knit 1, knit two together, yarn over, knit two together, (slip one purlwise with yarn in back, knit one), repeat between ( ) until 3 stitches left, knit to end.
Next row: Knit 1, knit two together, yarn over, knit two together, knit to end.
Repeat last two rows until 8 stitches and then just the last row until 4 stitches left.
Next row: Knit two together, knit to end.
Repeat until 2 stitches. Knit two together, tie off. If desired, using a crochet hook, chain until desired length (about 15 or 16 chain) to make a loop for hanging.

 



If this pattern isn't to your liking, then perhaps you could find one that is from here.

Now that I've finished knitting for colleagues and acquaintances, I'm planning on knitting some more of these for myself (to be hidden from certain male family members of course). I think, though, that I'll leave the loop off the ones I do for myself. And while I was particularly fond of the cornflour blue yarn that I used, I think I might also experiment with some other shades of blue. 



Yep, I'm definitely a blue girl!

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