Free Yarn (and a story of progress)

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Check it out! I made two, crocheted washcloths! The square one was simply an exercise in practicing double crochet. I needed to work on rhythm and tension so I did one row of double then one row of single until I got sick of working on it. Then I made a little chain loop because...well... I figured that my stitches were actually nice enough that I didn't have to throw this swatch away so it could actually BE something (like a washcloth).

Washcloth number two... my very first, successful crochet-in-the-round. It's pretty sweet. My stitches look good and there are only a couple of "holes" where I think I may have missed a pick-up. Plus, it lays flat!

Previously, I mentioned that one of the inspirations for me to learn crochet were some free Lion Brand patterns that I'd gotten in their weekly newsletter. Specifically, I really wanted to make this washcloth.
I don't know what it is about this stupid thing that's so appealing to me but, for whatever reason, it was the impetus for my new crafting adventure.

So, attempt number three (attempts 1 and 2 were chronicled in an earlier post) was supposed to be "Alex follows a pattern" and, according to Lion Brand, this is an easy pattern. "Easy" is relative when you don't know anything at all.

My first challenge was with the abbreviations in the pattern. "ch 1", "sl st", and "dc" meant, literally, nothing. So, I broke out my library books and looked up the various definitions and instructions for each abbreviation. Challenge number two was with the language of the pattern. Some of the instructions were easily identified as variations on the language of knitting patterns but some was absolute Greek. "(2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in each ch-1 sp around" might mean something to even the novice crocheter but, to someone who has never, ever read a pattern before, it's complete gibberish - even with the abbreviations defined.

It's in Greek - istg
I sallied forth and attempted to do the pattern with my library books as instruction but I ended up with a morass of crazy that didn't remotely look like the washcloth of my dreams.

Back up and punt. I put the pattern away and decided to try to, at least, make something round. In my mind, if I could get the "round" part mastered, the pattern would be easier. Neither of my library books had a simple round pattern in it so off to the Interwebs I went. Can I just say...thank Babyjesus for YouTube and this woman:

Bthintx1's YouTube channel may become my de facto online home. She keeps it simple and explains EVERYTHING. So, basically, I started the video, paused, did what she did, re-started the video, paused, did what she did... etc. and I ended up with that awesome round washcloth above! Amazing.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't address my inability to read the pattern. For that, I bothered my co-worker, the lovely and talented Lisa, to help me decipher it. She was, in fact, very helpful - for the first few rows. By the time I hit row 4, there was a new instruction I didn't understand. So, I'll be back at her desk this afternoon for more one-on-one guidance. Which brings me to this thought...

When I learned to knit, I took a few classes. I've decided, after this experience, that teaching oneself pattern-based crafting is really an exercise in futility and frustration. It's just better when someone (even an anonymous, online someone) can show you what you need to do.

On a final note, I'd like to talk about the yarn I'm using for these washcloths. Cassandra and I attended the Sheep In The City convention in Milwaukee last winter and found some really gorgeous yarns there. One of the more interesting yarns we saw is made from corn fiber. The company, Corny Goodness, makes yarns of pure corn fiber or a wool/corn blend in some of the most beautiful colors you've ever seen. In the booth, they had a number of items knit with this amazing, hypoallergenic, vegan, yarn - and one of the coolest was a dishcloth. There's something about the weight and texture of the yarn that makes it perfect for this use. Plus, the fiber has some weird qualities, like it's antibacterial and dries extra fast, that make it really appealing for any cloth that's going to be getting wet.

The yarn has a slight sheen that is really appealing and the colorways are incredible. My one complaint is that working with it is a bit of a chore. It's "sticky" - kind of like the way cotton feels sticky after working with wool, but 10 times mores so. And it tends to be a bit splitty, which is only really a problem because I'm still learning how to use the crochet hook properly. The skeins aren't cheap - $14 US per - but they're huge. The DK weight comes in around 100 grams or 240 yards of yarn. That's a LOT of washcloths.

So...I have two skeins of Corny Goodness DK weight in colorway Orville's Ocean Light (see above) and I'd like to give one away to you guys. If you'd like to be entered into a random drawing for this skein of yarn, simply comment below before 3pm CST Friday August 19. (Comments now closed please see here for winner.) All eligible names will be put into a hat and we'll do a random drawing to see who wins. If you enter, please remember that we need a way to contact you so, if you aren't registered with Blogspot you'll need to send us an email so we can let you know if you won.

I love giveaways!

- Alex


  1. You're washcloth progress is great - crochet is a talent that I have yet to master. My brain is stuck in knit mode so I get confuzzled.

    I would love to try that yarn - I had never heard of it but it looks gorgeous! Thank you for the opportunity to possibly try it out.

  2. I'd love to try the corny yarn! it sounds interesting.

    I've used another youtube channel to help me get back into the world o crochet:

    maybe that will help you too

  3. Just started crochet myself so I know how you feel about it being all gibberish. I'd love to try the yarn as well, just because it sounds very intriguing.

    Good job on crocheting in the round, I haven't done it as yet, maybe soon after I am done my bolero.

  4. I would love to try this yarn. Count me in please. Your washcloths are amazing. Coming from a newbie, I think they are wonderful.

  5. Hey, excellent progress (much better than mine!) And yep, the patterns are complete gibberish to me too. Although I should probably get better at the straight line stuff before I worry about patterns!

    As I won your last yarny giveaway, count me out for that, but I wanted to comment anyway ;)

  6. I would love to win this yarn! I have lots of allergies in my family so hypoallergenic yarn would be great! Thanks! You can contact me at emarci at hotmail dot com if I win! <3

  7. This looks really cool! :D Your washcloths are pretty!

  8. Your pictures look really good for a beginner. The stitches are even and your tension is good. I've been crocheting for 35 years so if there is anything I can do to help I would love to.
    How about some snowflake patterns? They make pretty trivets during the holidays.

  9. It's my birthday so I'm feeling lucky!

    Here's my email: ms mutant super model at gmail dot com

    Looking forward to your email! ;)

  10. Thanks for all the words of encouragement and the interest in the yarn. It's really pretty cool stuff. One more day to go and we'll name the winner in tomorrow's afternoon post.

    On a separate note, today is our blogaversary! I think Cassandra is going to post about that tomorrow. Happy anniversary to us!

    - Alex

  11. Sometimes I find it helpful to rewrite patterns with no abbreviations, then you don't have to think when you're reading it. Your work so far looks fantastic, keep it up!!! Also, I find that sometimes it's the pattern that just doesn't work for me, if so, I just chose another, no harm no foul.

    I am very intrigued about this yarn! The colourway is lovely and I would love to give it a whirl, thank you so much for the chance to win! Happy Blog-e-versary!!!

  12. Congratulations to emarci - the winner of the Corny Goodness yarn!

    Marci, please email us at and provide your mailing address so we can get the yarn out to you.