Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Zen of Dishcloths

Now that the last gifts have been given and opened, I will reveal the extent of my holiday handicraft. Dishcloths. Eleven of each colorway.
I saw these at Jo-An in September, I think, and bought one 12 oz. skein of each and began knitting. I do not like to have partial skeins of leftover yarn, so I just kept knitting until they were all used. I ended up with a ball the size of a large marble of one and a golf ball size of the other. (Which subsequently became the strings on my gift tags made from holiday cards!)
Photo taken at Jo-An's, since I forgot to take one before I started knitting!

My mother knitted dishcloths from this pattern for about 25 of the last 30 years of her life. I saw the instructions in a Workbasket magazine from the 80's, but her version was slightly larger (cast on 17 instead of 15 stitches). Mother and her sister, Dear Aunt worked out the variation and Dearest sister has the envelope that they wrote it out on.

Mother always had her knitting with her and a stack of finished dishcloths beside her chair. They were perfectly uniform and always reminded me of a stack of colorful pancakes.

On just about every visit she would say, "Do you need any dishcloths?" and I would pick out three or four or five different colors to take home. After awhile, I had my own growing stacks tucked in a cabinet here and a drawer there. The Mister always thought that I was hoarding them unfairly. What he didn't know (but I did!) is that my sisters each had a cache of their own. Ms A once said that we guarded them like hissing dragons protecting our gold.

Last spring, I decided to sharpen up my knitting skills and try to tackle a project bigger than a baby hat. Dearest Sister walked me through a dishcloth pattern that she has adopted and I knitted several of those. Then, I decided to try Mother's round pattern.

Since then, in the past 10 months, I have knitted 50 or so of the round dishcloths. Tonight, I sat down with The Mister to watch TV and grabbed my needles and a new ball of Sugar and Cream yarn and started casting on. He asked me what I was going to make - I said, "a dishcloth". He asked me why, but I didn't answer. (He wasn't really expecting one!)

After I thought about it, though, it occurred to me that the dishcloths create their own kind of zen state. It is routine, but with markers of progress in the pattern. I am beginning to understand that Mother didn't knit them to pass the time, or for the few dollars that she sold them for at the annual senior housing craft fair (which were my assumptions) or even to provide everyone in the family with a lifetime supply of fabulous dishcloths. She knitted them because she enjoyed it! And now, when we have guests, I find myself asking, "do you need any dishcloths?"


Iron Needles said...

We are becoming our mother...at least in the 'knitting of dishclothes' way.

Anonymous said...

Becky took the words right out of my mouth!! (I have become our mother in other ways, but then, I got a head start.) Love, WS

Anonymous said...

Yes, and I have my stash too, however, my mister keeps hiding them in boxes AS PACKING MATERIAL!!! ARGH! And worse, HE CUT A HOLE IN ONE TO GO AROUND A CAMERA! I must come up with a fitting title for him, Mr. PR (for packrat)? How about Mr. Roboto? The good news is, everytime we open a box, I'm reminded of Grandma. :) Dr. Niece

Anonymous said...

And, if I may say so, becoming grandma in most ways is not a bad thing. I hope to do the same. :) Dr. Niece