Yarn

HOW TO MAKE A KITCHEN SPONGE

Spring cleaning is in the air, or maybe it's that our traditional kitchen sponge is begging to be retired? Either way it's time for a new kitchen sponge here. As part of my "small changes when possible" ways of thinking, I thought there is no time like the present to make a sponge from scratch. I got the idea from our soap holder. I once knitted a coaster sized swatch when I was practicing some new stitches, and when done I washed it and it became our bar soap holder. It's great because when it starts to look a little down and out I just throw it into the wash and it comes out looking clean and ready for the job.

crochet

For this you will need wool yarn. I bought this yarn many many many years ago when I was feeling ambitious about learning how to crochet. It felt precious for a long time, and now I just want to use it up so I can move on. I still struggle with even crochet work. Can you tell? In this case I was fine just to get in the motion of crocheting and less concerned about perfection. It is a kitchen sponge after all!

You can make this by knitting or crocheting, and you can do any stitches you want! Here is what I did.

Materials:

  • wool yarn
  • crochet hook
crochet_rectangle
  • Make a slip knot and cast on about 15 stitches or so. Make it larger than what you want because this will shrink over time.
  • I did the Basic Double Crochet stitch and made myself a little rectangle.
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  • Then fold the rectangle in half until it is larger than your desired sponge shape. You can sew it together, or with slip stitches. What I did was go around the perimeter closing the square with a slip stitch.
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  • Tie off. Cut off. Viola!
crochet_sponge

Spongey

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  • Put it through one round of wash before using. The hotter it is the more felting potential you have. I know mine will shrink over time, so I didn't get ambitious with the hot water.

Then you can use to wash dishes, the counter, and whatever else needs some sponge action! Wash and repeat!

So far it's working beautifully. It gets very sudsy. I will need to make a few more, so I have some to go in rotation.

HOW TO MAKE YARN

The other title for this post is HOW TO TRY AND MAKE YARN. Don't ask me why I am so attracted to all that can be made by hand, but I am. There is something about the new year that usually has me question something I've been curious about and set out to do it. Over a decade ago I wanted to learn how to knit. I was at UC Santa Cruz and my BFF and we wanted to learn together. Lucky for me she was also in Santa Cruz at that time. I found a flyer for learning to knit on campus and thought why not! News to me is that the UC Santa Cruz had a camper park on campus. I'm realizing how Santa Cruzish this is all beginning to sound, but that is what makes it so great. I was learning knitting in the middle of a community among a bunch of campers in the woods in the evening. It was wonderful and I learned how to knit! My instructor was also fellow college student. I remember she had really beautiful socks that she said she would knit while listening to lectures. 

And since I have been knitting and crocheting I ask myself things like "How does one make yarn?"

I was lucky enough to attend a workshop here at Table Rock Llamas Fiber Arts Studio taught by Sharon Dalrymple.  Both are great resources, if you are into fiber arts. 

I am no expert on this subject, so I am just going to share the run down of what I learned. This will also be a reminder to myself when I will someday question the order of the process. I am sure there is a day ahead where I will want to rent a spinning wheel to practice again.

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First you begin with a spinning wheel. Make sure all parts are oiled and ready to go.

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The fluffy cloud below is merino wool roving. Roving is the long and narrow bundle of fiber. Fiber is the material that comes from plucking or sheering the animal. Examples of animals that produce fiber are sheep, alpaca, or rabbits. The clump of "yarn" above is from sheep.

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If you were to pinch the top of one of these piles and pull off some material you would see how long it is, that would be your staple length.  In this case the staple length was about 2-3 inches. Then you separate your roving into piles that are easier to draft with.  They best of way of explaining drafting without actually showing you is it's the way you feed the roving to the bobbin on the spinning wheel. 

spinning-yarn.jpg

In the above picture the yarn is twisting on above my left hand. My right hand is pulling the roving gently and letting it go through my fingers into the bobbin while moving my feet on the pedals to make the wheel work the bobbin. Your hands always need to be further apart than your staple length. Sound simple? It is! Sound easy enough? Not so much. 

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The when you have two bobbins of single ply yarn you can spin two single ply yarns together to make 2 ply yarn. Like so.

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Then you can use the niddy noddy (the t shaped piece of wood shown above) to wrap your yarn.

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Then you can take it off in a nice neat bundle like the one on the right. You can set the twist by letting the yarn that has been wrapped on the niddy noddy to a sink of hot water with some wool wash for about 10-15 minutes. Hand fiber to drip dry. Imagine how lovely that lumpy yarn would look if I knew what I was doing!

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Eventually I did get better, but it does take a rhythm to it, practice, and time.