posted by Amy on Aug 29
Several months ago, while waiting for a church service to start, I noticed a friend in the pew behind me knitting something, and I asked her what it was. She said it was a dishcloth. It looked like the loose-knit cotton dishcloths we used to use when I was a kid. I asked for the pattern, and she gave it to me the next week.
When I went to the craft store for cotton yarn I saw a book with patterns for ten different ridiculously fancy dishcloths. Medium-weight cotton yarn comes in a mind-numbing array of colors and patterns. I started watching for sales on yarn, and started collecting different cotton yarns just to have them around. And I started knitting dishcloths.
If I don’t mess up and have to tear out rows and redo them, it only takes about 3 or 4 hours to knit a dishcloth. That’s three round trips on the train to Center City, or two DVD movies. By the time I’m tired of the pattern or the color, the thing is done: almost-instant gratification.
While searching the internet for more patterns, I ran across a blog where the writer asked why anyone would want to knit a dishcloth. I didn’t join in the conversation, because I sensed that her world and mine might be too far apart. I use them for. . . . . . . washing dishes. There’s no dish washing machine in my little galley kitchen. There’s no place to put a dishwasher in my little galley kitchen. (In fact, I don’t even have room for a coffee maker. I use one of those cones that hold a Melitta filter, and make it directly into a thermal carafe, which, come to think of it, was exactly how my old coffee maker worked, only it was electric and took up counter space. ) These dishcloths work great for washing dishes, and for wiping down the counters and stove top. It’s nice to have something pretty and colorful to assist with the kitchen cleanup. And they make good gifts, because they are pretty, practical, unique, affordable (it costs about a buck for enough yarn for a dish cloth), and sturdy.
I recently had occasion to commemorate the “unwedding” of a young couple I know. Colorado is one of a handful of states that have common law marriage. Preachers were few and far between in the old days, plus Colorado has always been kind of free thinking, pragmatic, and independent. Marriage is a contract, and (in Colorado, anyway) requires only the assent of the partners (plus all the other conditions for a valid contract–they have to be of age, not married to anyone else, of sound mind, etc.) It’s a real marriage and, since there was no divorce at common law, it can only be dissolved by going to court, just like any other marriage. This young couple decided to put the recently-laid-off partner onto the health insurance of the still-employed partner by saying they were married. I advised against it, and explained all about the one-way nature of the decision. They did it anyway. I like them and wish them well, so I sent them a collection of seven ridiculously fancy hand-knit dishcloths as an “unwedding” present. I think they will eventually get around to having a more formal, and universally proclaimed, kind of wedding, but in the meantime I thought it was a nice gesture. And they will think of me, and of my friendship, when they’re doing dishes or wiping down counters.
Knitting dishcloths is addictive. I had a great-aunt who was a knitter. I barely knew her, but she would send us the cutest knitted things–sweaters with scenes from fairy tales, or mittens that looked liked skunks or chipmunks. I thought it was awesome, but I now realize she was seriously bitten by the knitting bug. Compared to that, I’m a rank amateur, but I do like doing this. There’s one yarn that looks like Neapolitan ice cream, another that looks like tutti frutti, and one that has all the colors of rainbow sherbet. There’s a style of yarn that is “self striping:” it’s somehow magically programmed to change colors in nice, even stripes. And you can get that very same green and white or red and white bicolor yarn that the old-fashioned dishcloths were made of. There’s a pattern that looks like the cover of my junior high band book (trompe l’oeil tumbling blocks). Once I got the hang of it, I really got to liking “bee stitch,” which produces a nice, open pattern that dries fast. And then there’s “trinity stitch,” with little lacy knots, and a bunch of others. I have tried all but two of the patterns.
Knitting dishcloths is a good way to keep my brain active. It’s probably not quite as engaging or effective for that as studying Greek, but counting stitches and keeping track of rows is better than sitting there doing nothing. It’s also a good way to learn new knitting techniques cheaply. I don’t have to commit the time and yarn investment that I would devote to, say, an afghan or bedspread, to learn lacy stitches like “feather and fan.” This, in my opinion, is a good thing. I have a stack of ridiculously fancy dishcloths in my dresser, and more are being added every week. They make great hostess gifts. So, invite me for a visit, and you might get some dishcloths.