Humble Knitting

A few months ago I was invited to a ladies’ afternoon tea/coffee (for lack of a better term) hosted by one of my sweet neighbors.  The host told me one of the ladies there was a long-time knitter, so I introduced myself to the woman as a fellow knitter.  The woman immediately asked what I had been knitting recently.

“Washcloths,” I replied.

“Bah!” was her instant response, with a dismissive flip of the hand as she drew her self up proudly and said, “I’m knitting socks!”

Resisting the urge to slap her, inform her I tired of knitting socks long ago, or describe all the difficult, complicated  items I’ve knit over the last 55 years, I instead headed to the cake table.

Why dismiss washcloths?  Too humble?  Too utilitarian?  BAH!

Why knit washcloths?  I have never liked the thick commercially-made washcloths sold in stores in the U.S. (even if they are part of a matched towel set).  They hold too much water and/or my hands aren’t strong enough to wring them out enough so they don’t drip!  Washing my face nightly with them I would end up with my bottom of my sleeves and the top part of whatever I was wearing soggy and wet.

My grandmother always used small, fairly thin clothes for her ablutions, and I decided to follow her example.  Digging through my substantial stash, I found a partial cone of Peaches & Cream yarn 100% cotton (400g/706y), leftover from a woven waffle towel projects many years ago.  The only other cotton and linen yarns I had, however, were for rug warps, so off to the local store I went.  (It is not a yarn store per se, but it is a local – not chain or big box – store that carries some yarns.)  I selected a couple of balls of Wendy Supreme 100% Luxury Cotton 4ply (100g/267m), Eulali (100g/360m) and Patons Grace 100% mercerized cotton (50g/125m).

Utilitarian, however, doesn’t have to mean ugly or plain.  Going to my bookshelf, I pulled out several books on lace patterns, made some calculations and started knitting.  Some of the lace patterns I knit include:  Sunspots, Little Parachute, Subtle Mesh, Falling Leaf, Ostrich Plume, Lace Lattice, Old Shale, and Mini Hearts.

I found that lace Washcloths2washcloths in smooth, multi-plied thin lace weight Eulali were my favorite.  Peaches & Cream (I think it’s now Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream) felt rough and thick, so I knit a very simple garter stitch cloth and another using a slip stitch pattern.  Yuck.  (They now sit in a kitchen drawer holding various hot pads and oven mitts.)

Washcloths1I knit probably about two dozen washcloths – keeping a dozen for myself and distributing the rest as gifts.  (By the way, a hand knit washcloth makes a lovely gift especially when wrapped around a bar of handmade goat milk soap!)  Above are two pictures of washcloths I pulled out of the cupboard as I wrote this post.  IMG_6837 - Copy

One of my favorite patterns for a lightweight washcloth turned out to be Subtle Mesh from Barbara G. Walker’s “Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns.”

For beginner lace knitters, washcloths are an excellent way to learn not just how to knit lace but to see how different lace patterns act:  Some contract much more vertically and/or horizontally, others are open and loose, some create a curvy or scalloped cast on edge, others pull diagonally to the left or right.  It’s also an excellent way to see what you might like to tackle in, say, a curtain, towel, scarf, shawl or sweater!  (Newer knitters – or knitters seeking to refresh their skills – who haven’t considered knitting pretty wash cloths may want to take a peek at strikkelysten’s blog.)

I now have a stack of lace washcloths ready for me to grab.  I have a few in the guest bathroom as well, along with some of the heavier commercially washcloths for guests who may be more comfortable with those!

Happy knitting!

Postscript:  Here’s some pics of this week’s baking!

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26 Responses to Humble Knitting

  1. I don’t like it wet or dry! LOL


  2. Thank you for sharing this because I’ve never cared for homemade washcloths. I like how pretty they are but I don’t like how the sugar and cream feels when wet. For some reason I’ve never thought of using a smaller weight yarn. So that will be on my to-do list for May. Thank you for the inspiration.


  3. marjorie says:

    Oh I love your beautiful washcloths! and my mouth is watering at the sight of all your delicious baked goods. Off to make some scones, you’ve inspired me once again. xoxo


  4. I’ll give that a try. My knitting has taken a backseat to my writing this April as I write an A To Z. This month I’m writing All About Nancy Drew!


  5. Try rinsing/soaking them in plain white vinegar.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It seemed to smell right out of the drawer so I’ve put them away for a break! I enjoyed making them.


  7. I know exactly the smell you mention! I find that rotating to a new face cloth every two days takes care of that. (Perhaps it’s a combo of skin cells, cotton fiber and soap residue?)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I knitted quite a few dishcloths but unless it’s my water I feel after awhile they’d smell right away like soured milk. Haven’t figured it out yet. Recently I’ve learned to knit socks – was intimidated to learn for the longest – I’m enjoying them!


  9. salpal1 says:

    Oh, sounds very nice! This might be moving up my queue faster now…


  10. Yes, it was an unnecessary comment … It is unlike me to bite my lip … which is why Thor and I might find ourselves banned from the next neighborhood holiday party! LOL


  11. Give it a try! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ever since I was young, I found that the more detail-oriented a project was (e.g., Hardanger), my concentration ended up relaxing me. Weird. But, like you, I tend to have at least one “plain” knit project hanging around for the occasions I don’t want to concentrate! 🙂


  13. I just ripped out a beautiful sock because I decided I’d rather have a winter head band knit out of the yarn! LOL


  14. Oh yes indeed!


  15. I knit a hand towel for the guest bathroom … I used a beautiful thin ecru-colored cotton in the Ostrich Plume pattern. It is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So practical too!


  17. djdfr says:

    Ah, but lace stitch washcloths, that’s another story. 🙂 Kind of like the squares I knit to send to KAS.


  18. salpal1 says:

    That woman! I would have been hard pressed to walk away! Good for you. Your washcloths are lovely, and it is a great idea for trying stitches and techniques. Far more useful than a swatch. I have been contemplating dish towels but haven’t gone there yet. You encourage me!


  19. Susan Mckee-Nugent says:

    Those are very impressive and I bet they feel good also.


  20. I’m a washcloth knitter as well because of all the fun stitches I want to try but don’t want to commit to a whole garment or project. I knit a whole sock once and I hated it. I also ripped the whole thing back to salvage the yarn. I guess I’m a humble knitter as well. I love all those lacy washcloths you have!


  21. Good for you for not addressing the response. This has been the best way to try out new and even difficult stitches – even to get better at consistency – with washcloths. It’s been a good way to improve my craft as a knitter and even to pay more attention in weaving. Thanks for sharing!


  22. writeknit says:

    How sad that the woman you spoke with belittled your knitting. I suspect your washcloths are used much more than most fancy knits. Personally, I knit to relax and while I do make sweaters, etc, it is calming to do washcloths and other “plain” knits. Knit on my friend!!


  23. What a great way to try out new stitches. You could use them as doilies under plants too.
    I don’t like working in anything other than wool and still can’t master socks– so it’s lots of scarves, shawls and sweaters that keep me busy and with an enormous stash too.


  24. Oh, so many years ago, I used to knit squares of lace patterns just to find out how they worked but never thought of using one as a facecloth – one certainly lives and learns 🙂


  25. annatestadoro says:

    What a dismissive comment from another knitter…that’s poor show I think. What a wonderful selection of washcloths on your pictures. I just love them. Makes me want to knit some too. Gorgeous!


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