Sunday, 24 September 2017

Delayed Decisions and Finished at Last!

A hand towel hangs from the crossbar handle of a kitchen stove. The towel is made from a folded tea towel and a crocheted top is attached which buttons over the handle. The crocheted top is purple to match the coloured text on the tea towel which says 'grapes'.
"Wine Grapes Tea Towel Top"
designed and made by Jodiebodie.
Nov 2015–Aug 2017
This tea towel top is one of those 'secret projects' mentioned last month in "Too Soon to Tell"
(Lupey Loops blog entry, 20 August 2017).

It is my own design and it took ages to finish, mainly because of slow decision-making– agonising over the choice of pattern for the border.

Can you believe that this project actually commenced in 2015?  According to my Ravelry project page, it began in November 2015 and it took until 23 August 2017 to complete.

The folded tea towel is cream in colour with a woven chequered trim on the ends. A deep plum-purple is the contrast colour. On the towel is a printed design of purple grapes with green leaves on a vine. Text around the pictures says "wine". "grapes", "Pinot Noir" and has a round stamp insignia. Other colours in the design include an olive green and a denim blue.
A shop-bought tea towel was the inspiration for the design.
This towel had the same print on both ends.
It was folded in half to show the print on both sides.
The fold was secured at the top and tidied by sewing
a line of straight stitches close to the fold.
The foundation row of crochet was worked directly
into the towel in a colour to match.
This made the first row of plum-coloured stitches
and the join between the crocheted and towelling
fabrics look much neater.


Of course, the crochet part wasn't too hard and much of it was done by the end of 2015.  Because it was my own design, much time was taken with experimentation, drawing and writing notes but still, they were no reasons for taking two years about it.

It was a clear case of UFO. I needed to do some research because I couldn't decide upon a suitable border and also wanted to find a button that fitted in with the 'wine grapes' theme of the towel. These activities had to wait until I was free of fatigue; when I was able to think clearly and get out and about. 

The photo is a close-up of the tea towel top. The textured stitches can be clearly seen.
Textured stitches create bunches of grapes
hanging down from the strap at the centre top.
The button is a vintage button
from my grandmother's collection.
It's shape reminds me of a grape.
It's a familiar story: the towel was deposited into the project basket and somehow found itself languishing in the bottom, where it was easy to ignore against the call of more urgent, appealing or easier projects.  It is not surprising that the last time this tea towel project was mentioned was 13 December 2015 in a blog post aptly titled, "Procrastinate Now."

A close-up of the strap and border
Linked stitches were used
to create a solid and sturdy fabric
for the strap.
The border pattern was inspired
by vintage pattern brochures.
The tea towel was competing against sewing projects and myriad  crocheted gifts etc. At least a dozen crocheted projects were started and finished between then and now including a bunch of silk-mohair and rainbow scarves, baby bibs and flowers.

Every time I came across the unfinished towel in my project basket, it bothered me. There's nothing like a deadline to motivate a person so I forced myself to complete it by entering it into the Royal Adelaide Show!

If that didn't give me the kick I needed, nothing would! 

Here are some of the technical aspects of my design.
  • Two different thread sizes were used. The cream cotton was 4-ply but I could only find a matching plum colour in size 8 perlé threads. Therefore the main part of the tea towel top was made by working two strands of size 8 thread together for an equivalent 4-ply weight.
  • Cotton perlé thread was chosen for its durability, washability and stitch definition.
  • Folding the towel extends its useful life as it is like two towels in one. I can wipe my hands on the underside and keep the outside prints looking clean and tidy on display.
  • Machine sewing the fold kept it neat and provided a guide for crochet stitches that are worked straight into the towel.
  • The shank style button allows room for the strap. The re-use of a vintage button for this project saves waste and is environmentally friendly.
  • This design uses a variety of regular stitches and fancier techniques (Aus/UK terms):
    • standard stitches–ch, dc, tr, dtr
    • 5-tr popcorns and 5-tr reverse popcorns for grape motifs
    • front- and back-post double trebles for raised grapevine stems
    • decreasing with tr2tog clusters
    • decreasing with clusters comprised of 3 different stitch types; e.g. [tr, FPdtr, & (dc, 2ch)]together
    • linked dtrs in the strap create a solid fabric
    • shell and picot edging loosely echoes the shape of grapevine leaves and acknowledge the lace styles of the mediterranean region where grapes are grown.

The semi-circular top design has been draped over a cushion to spread out the design. Viewed from the top, five grape motifs fan out from the central button with filet crochet gaps between each one.

I had never entered anything into any kind of show or crochet competition before so I wasn't sure which category to enter. There were two possibilities offered:

Class 437–Household Article, to 900 mm maximum, using thicker than 40 denier threads.

Class 439–Creative Crochet, any original article, designed and made exclusively by the exhibitor. A short note stating theme or inspiration can be included with the exhibit for the judges' information. 

Which category would you choose
for a project like this?

I'm keen to find out what you think,
especially if you have had plenty of show experience.
Please leave your comment(s) below
or email

More news from my show experience very soon …

A larger, close-up picture of the tea towel top.


Ravelry project page "Wine Grapes Tea Towels": 

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

"Too Soon to Tell!", 20 August 2017:

"Procrastinate Now", 13 December 2015:


  1. It is a beautiful piece. I think Household Article is the right category, but who knows what the judges think!

    1. Yes, it is a household article but I want to be judged on the design too, not just the ability to follow a pattern and stitch. I think you have the key to shows and fairs: "Who knows what the judges think!" hehehehe

  2. Jodie and I have talked about this already. I gave her some feedback from my experience as a steward but I would be interested to know what other people think too.

    1. Your feedback and perspective has been very valuable, Cat. I appreciate it so much. If it weren't for your encouragement together with my family's, I don't think I would have entered.

      It was fascinating to read your blog to learn about your experience as a steward. Does being a steward preclude you from entering your knitting? Have you ever entered the beautiful lace of yours that I see at Prudence Mapstone's display? That is your lace, isn't it?

      It was nice to see you at the showgrounds - always helpful to see a friendly face to calm my 'newbie' nerves.

      Thanks so much, Cat xx

  3. What a wonderful design Jodie! Love the grape design and the color is perfect. Sorry I can't advise on your show category since I haven't been to a show before. It's a great feeling when you finally finish a UFO! I've been trying to do that a lot recently rather than hiding them away!

    1. Oh yeah, Tamara! You said it about finishing a UFO! The only thing is that I have two more towels just like it to do as well! I was really pleased with the colour but my challenge was to come up with a design that used just the two reels of cotton without wasting any or needing more than two reels.

      This one was a prototype and I must admit I am proud of it because I was able to achieve the effect I had in my mind's eye. It took quite a bit of work with samples and experiments so it feels good to have found a design solution.

      I am not sure what kinds of shows you have in Texas. Do you have 'State Fairs' or similar? You are a teacher and would know some tricks of the trade. I think you would probably do well to enter something yourself.

      For now though, I hope the weather calms down for you. My heart has been beating for all of my friends in the southern USA,hoping that everyone is safe and coping with the adversity. Was your knitting and crochet an effective way to manage the stress of recent events?

      Take care and good luck with getting your UFOs sorted.

  4. I do not have any show experience but it seems to fit the first criteria. It is fantastic and I would love to make it someday. I love those kind of hand towels for my camper. Now I will have to pay more attention to tea towels in the linen aisles to find the right ones!

    1. These kinds of hand towels are so great because they don't slip onto the floor; perfect for a camper. They are great stashbusters too. I like to find good quality towels since I am going to all that trouble to make a fancy top. If you have a household that ruins the towels quickly, maybe cheaper ones are better. There are still plenty of pretty cheap ones around.

  5. I love this Jodie and it is so well thought out :)

    1. Thank you Tracey. It took quite a bit of drawing, measuring, mathematics and stitch testing to come up with the final design. Thank you for appreciating that. Many people don't see the work that goes into such things.