Tag Archive | cotton yarn

Christmas gifts: They were cones!

The last of the Christmas gift round-up! This was another Rana project and definitely not something I would have done with the younger kids. Finding homemade gifts for men can be tricky — it’s easy to find all kinds of cutesy, frilly, girly projects, but something that a man might want or find useful can be a real challenge. Rana had pulled one of her uncle’s names for this last one. Knowing that this uncle uses a wood stove to heat his house, when I found this project for pine cone fire starters, I thought that this was something we could do.

First things first: you need pine cones. Pine cones are plentiful on the other side of the state, but over here on the Western side of the mountains, mostly all we get are fir cones. Fir cones, while bountiful, are worthless, acidic clumps of mush. Some people have to rake leaves from their lawns; we get to rake fir cones, or else they burn up your grass and you have no lawn. Actual pine trees are in sparse supply around here, so in order to get the aforementioned pine cones, we used several of those cinnamon-scented pine cones they sell around the holidays. One advantage to this versus foraging for cones in the wild is that the cones are already dried and opened up.

Other supplies you’ll need are wax (we used an old candle) and wicks (cotton yarn). The basic idea is, you put a wick on the pine cone and coat it in wax, then you chuck the whole thing into the fireplace to get your fire going. We melted down a white candle in our pseudo-double boiler (tuna can in a pot of water). Little known fact: tuna cans float. That made the whole cone-dipping process more exciting. Bobbing for pine cones.

Rana did make a cute video for this, too, but Konik is yelling at me in the background while my mom tries to shush him. Oh well.



I had visions of the cones looking as though they had been frosted with snow. Unfortunately, white wax doesn’t look white unless it’s in a solid chunk, so our pine cones just looked kind of greasy. Hm. Another one of those “live and learn” moments, I guess. Even if they didn’t turn out as pretty as we had counted on, we hope that they are at least functional!

Quick and dirty crochet

Sometimes it’s nice to just knock out a craft without great concern for size, style or even accuracy. Enter the crocheted dishcloth! It has the added bonus of also being useful once completed. It seems that most people, when learning to crochet, get broken in either by a dishcloth or a potholder. I was apprenticed on a potholder. One of those mitered squares that never turn out square. My potholder supply is pretty good right now, but the dishcloth drawer was beginning to look a little sad. The dishcloths that Mr. Gren and I received as wedding gifts 9 1/2 years ago need to be transitioned into the rag drawer and some previous crocheted attempts turned out to be rather worthless.

9.5 years and a few bleach accidents later...

See, there are certain criteria to creating a good crocheted dishcloth. Uniformity, symmetry, and beauty? Throw ’em out the window! The things that really matter are:

  • Texture. An entire square of single crochet isn’t going to give you the scrubbing power you need to get off petrified scrambled egg. You need something with some oomph!
  • Size. It’s gotta be approximately as big as the dishwasher’s hand. In our case, the dishwasher is Mr. Gren, so the cloths need to be a decent size.
  • Sturdiness. I made the mistake once of making a pretty, lacy-looking dishcloth. It’s useless. The hole to yarn ratio is too great. You really need a pattern with compact stitches or the thing will disintegrate in your hands.

Other than that, it doesn’t have to be too perfect. It doesn’t even have to look that good. One pattern I read called for blocking the finished dishcloth which I find to be a little ridiculous. The whole purpose of blocking a crocheted or knitted item is to stretch it into the correct shape. Every time you wash the item, you have to block it again. Anyone else see the absurdity of blocking a dishcloth?

I feel a little like a connoisseur of dishcloth patterns. A couple of years ago, I tried out several and finally landed on two that meet all the above criteria. They both came from the September/October 2009 issue of “Crochet Today!”

It's supposed to be an alarm clock. I haven't made that.

One of the patterns was a mitered square. Hmmm. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I punished myself once and tried that one and it produced a pathetic little cloth. Uneven, of course. The two winners in this issue are called Offset Knot and Textured Weave. The third cloth in the picture below is from a blog called MoCrochet and features a sort of double crochet cross-stitch.

From left to right: Offset Knot, Textured Weave, and Alwine's Dishcloth

Check out the texture on these puppies!

Ski moguls

Basketweaving 101

X-ray vision

I could probably get another two, maybe three, cloths out of my ball of yellow cotton and trim them up in what’s left of the blue. I’ve never really been sure how many total you can get from one ball. It’s kind of like those old Tootise Pop commercials. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? How many dishcloths can you get out of a  4 oz. ball of cotton? The world may never know.

At any rate, there are more dishcloths in my future. For some reason, though, Mr. Gren is not nearly as excited about that as I am.