Thursday, 16 April 2015

Washing Line Tales Part 3

This is the finale in my posts about my washing-line exploits, (for the time being, anyway!). You may already feel you have had more than enough of washing-line tales by now, but as this episode is a little bit different, I thought I'd post it, to round things off, if you see what I mean.

As I mentioned in my Part 2 post here, I've found it very difficult to get the sides of my washing-line baskets to turn up at, anything like, ninety degrees and then remain perpendicular to the base to form more of a cylindrical, bucket-like shape. However carefully I turn the basket up, it persists in splaying out, as it spirals upwards. Not that that's necessarily a problem, if that's the shape you're after, but I did fancy something more barrel-shaped.

What to do? Turning the conundrum over in my mind, I thought back to the crochet baskets I've made using no rope, just two strands of cotton yarn - most recently here. These don't have any problems with the sides turning up at a right-angle and remaining more or less perpendicular. Could I combine the two techniques, perhaps? Aha! A light-bulb moment!

Want to see what resulted? Here it is!

Much straighter sides, and very little splaying out. Bingo!

This is how I got there. (In case you'd like to also.)

Firstly you need some lightweight 1/8" / 3.2 mm diameter rope like this:

You'll probably need a couple of skeins for a basket this size (10"/ 25 cm in diameter, 10" / 25 cm high)

You also need some lightweight yarn - an acrylic / cotton mix is what I used. (Scheepjeswol Softfun,  a Dutch yarn that I used for my Spring Flower Bag and coin purse last year. You can get it in the UK here.) You don't want anything too dense or the finished basket will weigh rather heavy.

You'll also need:
a hook, one size up from what you would normally use for your yarn - I used a 5mm instead of the 4mm one specified on the ball band.
a tape measure;
a permanent marker pen;
plenty of safety pins;
stitch markers;
sewing thread and a sewing machine.
(Flowers and hens, optional - see below!)

What you do:
First coil the end of your rope round to make a little circle with a hole in the middle and the main part of the rope going off to the left (unless you crochet left-handed, in which case, it should go to the right). Pin in place and  using a zig-zag stitch, machine stitch it in place, to secure it.

Now get your hook and yarn and beginning with a slip-knot, make 15 single crochet stitches (UK double crochet stitches) into the ring. (Round one) Put a stitch marker in the first stitch so you know where the round should end. You are now going to crochet over the rope in a spiral adding 15 stitches in every round and crocheting over the rope as you go. So, in round two you will make 2 stitches in each stitch (30 stitches in total). In round three you will make 2 stitches in every second stitch (45 stitches in total), in round four you will make 2 stitches in every third stitch (60 stitches in total) and so on, increasing the gap between increases, by one stitch in every round. My base was 13 rounds deep so my final round had 195 stitches in total ie 2 stitches in every 12th stitch, with 11 stitches between increases.

When you want to change colour, join your new colour with a knot, just before you finish the final stitch of the round before, as in the pic below, so that the colour-change is nice and seamless. Crochet over the ends as you go, to avoid any pesky yarn-end-sewing-in later. : )

Continue until you have a circle the size you want. Mine was 30" in circumference. Measure the circumference and make a note of it. This is important because that old rope wants to go a-splaying and a-wandering and you're going to need to rein it in. Using your permanent marker, mark your rope in sections, each measuring the circumference you're working to. You don't have to mark all the sections at once - you may not know how many rounds you'll want to add to the sides to begin with anyway - but just make sure you stay ahead of your crocheting so you're never crocheting over rope that doesn't have a mark to aim for. From now on, you will not make any increases at all and you'll keep the same number of stitches in each round. A good idea to count them and make a note at this point therefore.

What you'll find is that as you get near the end of the round, despite the absence of extra stitches, your mark is short of the finish-line and the sides are beginning to lean outwards. You can see mine here, heading for the wild blue yonder without a backward glance! Naughty!

As you can see in the pic, my mark is arriving about 2" short of the end of the round. Which we don't want. So pull gently on the rope to tauten it up and get the mark to coincide with the finish line as in the pic below.

You can see in this pic what's happened now. The sides have been pulled in, to go up nice and straight. Which is what we want!

Before you get carried away and carry on blithely crocheting, safety-pin both the crochet and rope at the marked point otherwise it can start walking, when you're not looking. I know this because that's what mine did and it had to be frogged and redone! Thank you, H, for the safety-pin suggestion - works brilliantly!

Keep on crocheting round in simple single crochet stitches (UK double crochet stitches), maintaining exactly the same number of stitches in each round and changing colour whenever you feel like it. It grows fast because each stitch, made over the rope, is significantly bigger than a normal single crochet stitch would be, without the rope inside it to expand it. We are motoring now! Neeeeowwww!

When, or if, you need to join in a new bit of rope, splice the two ends together and machine stitch together with a zig-zag stitch over the join, backwards and forwards, a few times.

Trim off any fraying edges on the rope, on a slant, to make the join less bulky and carry on!

I made the handles in the same sort of way as I made them in my fabric-wrapped version. Mark where you want them to come and mark the handle length on your rope and simply crochet only on to the single layer of rope on the handle section itself - make sure you use enough stitches to cover it completely - and go back to crocheting into the stitches below when the handle ends.

On your next round (the final one) crochet along the top edge of the handle, joining the rope, as you go, on to each handle, to make it nice and strong, as I've done here, in the paler green colour.

When you reach the end of your final round, carefully cut the rope at a slant ...

... and crochet a few slip stitches over the join, and beyond it, as if you were beginning another round. Only you're not beginning another round, so fasten off and sew in your yarn end.

Now, if your basket is going to be mainly decorative, you may wish to omit the next step but if it's going to work for its living and you might at some stage want to wash it, I suggest using the sewing machine to stitch with a zig-zag stitch, both over the end of the final round where the rope ends and heading south, in a line that crosses all the rounds, from the top of the basket to the bottom, where your safety pins secured each round end, at the correct marked point. Take your safety pins out before you start stitching, obviously. This means any ideas that rope may have had of taking a meander or a wander, now, or at any point in the future, are well and truly scuppered! Even on the high seas of the washing machine! I went down and back up again just to make sure I had that rope's colours well-nailed to the mast! It ain't going anywhere fast now, me hearties!

You may find that the act of stitching down, flattens the crochet stitches out slightly and leaves the rope peeping through in places, or you may find the stitching looks a bit too obvious. I found that, anyway. To correct this, simply thread up a few short lengths of yarn in the right colours and make a few strategic over-stiches to cover any gaps. Tie off neatly inside the basket and no one will ever know!


 ... after!

The finished basket isn't as stiff as the fabric-covered ones but it holds up OK, even without anything  in it and actually, it's not going to have nothing in it - it's going to have yarn and shopping and may be a picnic to carry. And, filled-up, it stands up very nicely indeed. I'm very happy with it, anyway.

When I took my basket into the garden for photography purposes, it aroused interest from an unexpected quarter.

This is Black-Eyed-Susan who is very friendly and won't go to bed without being fed from a caring hand. She only gets sunflower-seeds like this, as I draw the line at plunging my hand into the bar-snacks bowl, aka the dried meal-worm tub!

I was flattered to think she liked my basket too!

Enough to hop up on to the back of the garden bench and get a proper close look at my crochet stitches and the nice, stripy colours. What a discerning hen you are!

But it became clear, that actually it wasn't my crochet at all that she liked the look of! It was those yummy flowers I had provided for her especial delectation and delight!

OK, Susan! That's enough of that!

I hope, if anyone wants to give this a go, that my little tutorial notes are helpful. Feel free to email me if anything isn't, or ask a q in the comments and I'll reply there.

E x


  1. Ingenious - I love that basket and Black-Eyed-Susan is adorable. x

  2. Beautiful bag and those flowers are scrummy! You're so imaginative! xxx

  3. This is fantastic and thank you so much for the tutorial, it is wonderfully clear and helpful. So clever!

    S x

  4. Incroyable d'ingéniosité !!!! C'est extraordinaire !

  5. Really this is just amazing. I have recently seen a video of this type of technique with smaller circles that are joined together to make a rug. I think it was on Knitting Daily TV, they must have a website.
    It is incredible.

  6. It is beautiful! I'll try to do one like yours! Thank you for explane it!

  7. Well, that is just utterly fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never seen anything like this before and am so amazed at your skill in working all of this out and in producing the actual basket. I love love love it!!! Well done you!!! I hope you keep enjoying using it and have pretty bunches of flowers to carry in there often!! xx

  8. This is lovely, thank you for sharing!

  9. ABSOLUTLEY marvelous!!! The color, the crochet, the basket, the photos! Must try this sometime!! Thank you Elizabeth!

  10. Oh! The colors!!! So beautiful!

  11. Dinky! I love the idea of crocheting over rope; a fab way to give strength and structure!

  12. What a delight, a truly beautiful creation.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.