Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Joy of Washcloths

(I know it sounds like I'm channelling a 1940s issue of Good Housekeeping but I promise, it’s at least slightly interesting)

As of 7:40 this morning there were 8,795 hits on ravelry for “dishcloth” and 8,269 for “washcloth”. Any charity, movie or childrens’ cartoon character has a Washcloth in its honour- they range from completely plain Gt st squares, to extraordinarily fancy stitch patterns like this one, the downright doilyesque. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that is a doily, masquerading as a dischcloth. I don’t know anyone who would clean their dirty plates with anything that fancy)

When I first signed up to Ravelry, I found the proliferation of dishcloths really disconcerting. I’d never come across knitted ones before, and dismissed it as a waste of time. I didn’t even consider knitting them myself until I was ill last May, but suddenly my head felt like a medical waste dump and all my existing projects started to loom menacingly over me like lacy, socky Mafiosi. So I pulled out a ball of cotton and started knitting a diagonal square. Within a week I’d made about ten, and had run through three balls of cotton dk- I was completely addicted.
The thing is, it never occurred to me that they might actually work, but they do. They clean dishes far more efficiently than the sponges you can buy in the supermarket, but they’re gentler on good china and non-stick bakeware and because they're made from 100% cotton, you just throw them in the washing machine when they’re dirty. Unless you’re really bad at getting laundry done, you’ll never run out of cloths and have to wash up with a grimy sponge again. They’re also great as facecloths, so they make nice little baby gifts if you want to make something small and original, and you can incorporate baby’s initial, or a cute image if you’re so inclined.

 As a project they have plenty to recommend them. They’re very quick, and very simple. They’re compact and can fit easily in a handbag, so they make perfect mindless commuter knitting as there is no faffing around with a pattern, stitch markers or tape measures. They make an excellent way to try out new stitch patterns or yarn and the end product is far more useful than a simple tension square.

It’s best to use 100% cotton yarn for washcloths. I like Adriafil Memphis Cotton , which comes in lots of lovely colours, is hardwearing and can handle being machine washed on a hot cycle and even tumble dried very well.

As I promised at the end of Knitting for babies and toddlers pt 2, below is my “recipe” for a very basic wash cloth, but if you fancy something more exciting, the ravelry library is here.

Basic Washcloth

4mm needles and 100% cotton yarn, dk weight.

[Make a slip knot on one needle.
Knit into the front and back of this slip knot to make 2 sts. Turn.
Kfb in both sts.]

K2, yo, k to end. Repeat this row until your washcloth reaches the desired width. 50-60 stitches is usually sufficient, then continue as follows:
K2, y0, k2tog through the back loops, knit to last 4 st, k2tog, k2. Repeat until 4 st remain.
K2tog twice
Bind off final stitch.

Of course, there's no reason why this pattern has to be a washcloth- knitted in smooshy wool and made much bigger it would make a lovely, simple baby blanket, or lots of small patches joined together would make a nice afghan.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know you know. I am just not comfortable with the idea of the knitted washcloth. But I may have to give it a go now, as you are so enthusiastic! haha! Brilliant blog as ever Grace x