Inspired by the flowers in my garden as they bloom from spring through autumn, I designed these crocheted washcloths to brighten up your a or kitchen or anywhere in the house—and not just as washcloths, but to crochet in different yarns and different sizes to make items from tiny sachets to throw rugs, or to stitch together into table runners or dresser scarves or scarves to wear, purses or blankets or afghans or any number of other things.
It’s hard to believe I designed them eight years ago when I had a room in a little antiques and vintage shop to sell my handmade goods, I decided to design my own patterns for my handmade crochet goods. I love to crochet and I learned younger than I can remember; later I found it a welcome relaxing activity while keeping my hands busy and also producing something I could use for myself or for a gift. I always carried a crochet project with me while transporting my parents to doctor appointments or visiting in the hospital or personal care home. My mother was in her last years when I designed these and the inspirations came just as much from memory as from my current day gardens.
The first was the rose, which I have always loved to draw and paint, and as I watched my roses bloom I envisioned how I would interpret the furled petals swirling out from the center in a crochet pattern, deciding to make it as a cotton washcloth. Then my daisies bloomed and as I worked out that pattern the idea was born for a set of washcloths of all my favorite flowers!
The full set consists of a rose, daisy, sunflower, red poppy and aster. The poppy is red because I couldn’t find a good orange cotton yarn for the oriental poppy I love so much, but lately I’ve seen many new and interesting colors in cotton and bamboo yarns and I’m shopping for an orange or coral. The main rose is red, but I’ve also crocheted the rose in pink, white, yellow, lavender, burgundy, variegated…all my favorite rose colors.
I wanted the patterns to be relatively simple, both easy to make and easy to enjoy, no more than two colors, and in simple stitches that would be practical for their intended use, easy to handle and drying relatively quickly.
Because of repetitive strain issues I can’t crochet as much as I used to, so I’ll make a few to sell, but I’m also working on the pattern books so others can make them too.
And as with all other things I create, each flower comes with a story.
My favorite autumn flower is not a domesticated variety but is the wild aster that blooms wherever it can grow.
My set of summer flower-themed crocheted cotton washcloths was inspired by garden flowers as they bloomed in my back yard, but as summer wore on the wild asters began to bloom in the woods and fields as well as around the edges of my garden, where I let them grow for the birds and other wildlife who visit.
The slender blue rays surrounding the tiny yellow center make it seem delicate yet it grows in intense heat and drought in late summer to bloom undiminished all through autumn. The seeds provide forage for migrating birds and the stems a convenient place to perch even in winter. Of course, they also bloom in shades tending toward purple and pink and snowy and creamy white as well, but the blue is my favorite.
And there are hybrid varieties of asters which have long been garden favorites. These flowers inspired the familiar patterns which are the first and the simplest flower I remember embroidering on tablecloths, napkins, pillowcases and doilies, as well as the flower found on vintage china and other tableware, and I’m a sucker for this as well.
Working out the design
As I worked out the design, I wanted to maintain the look of the rays and the detailed serrated edge around the outside of the flower and the tiny yellow center, its overall delicacy and its sense of floating above its leaves, while producing a cloth that was functional as well as easy enough to make in an amount of time that would justify its cost. The colors had to be from easily obtainable off-the-shelf cotton yarns so that there would be no delays in ordering materials at any time.
That’s a tall order for a washcloth! Each of my designs fit these criteria, as did the aster, though I created a few versions that had far too much yarn involved or had such complicated stitches around the edge that they took forever. I also had a raised center as the aster flower has raised stamens in its center, but that felt awkward and took too long to dry. Finally, I put it to the test in both the bath and the kitchen to make sure the yarns were colorfast, that it performed its task of washing and also dried quickly enough that it wouldn’t grow mildew, a caution with using cotton yarns for products like these, and that it could be washed and dried in the dryer without losing its shape or shrinking. In the end, I was pleased with the design and glad to add my favorite blue flower to the set.
A wash cloth, a dish cloth, a hand towel, a doily…
This washcloth averages 9″ in diameter, though like most handmade items they vary up to 1/4″. In addition to their obvious use as a washcloth or dishcloth, I have a friend who uses these as small hand towels in the bathroom because they are absorbent and large enough to dry your hands after washing.
They can also be used as doilies for decoration or to protect a table top from scratches, and are even thick enough to be used as a hot pad. It’s not useful as a potholder, though, in part because the stitch is more open than a potholder generally is to allow for easy drying time, though you could stitch two together or add a backing to one to safely use.
I have tested and refined my patterns, and am asking friends to try them out as well to be sure they are easily understandable and accurate. I am also making sample items to photograph and display. The patterns will be available individually and in books. I’ll have it all for sale here on Portraits Of Animals. Also, check www.TheCreativeCat.net for the other pattern I designed at that time: pawprints!
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