“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

The Cobbler’s Dishrag Drawer

beatupdishrag

Dear Ann,

It has come to this. My once-glorious dishrag drawer is faded and bedraggled. I first noticed the general lowering of the tone of my dishcloths quite a while ago, but I kept pushing aside such unthinkable thoughts. The fact is, I’ve not been in the dishcloth knitting mood for a while now.

olddishragstack

Then, recently, a visitor commented on the sad state of my also-once-glorious tea towels. I had to face it: I’ve let myself go. The tea towel situation was fixed easily by a trip to Crate and Barrel, where the reproduction Vera tea towels are cheap and plentiful. I sadly cut my grayed-out old tea towels in half and put them on the rag pile: goodbye old friends, we had fun. But those new tea towels — their crispness, their brightness, their lack of gashes and dangling threads– cast the dire Dishrag Situation into sharper relief.

olddishragstack2

But I still don’t feel like knitting dishrags. It’s a special mood, the urge to knit a dozen dishcloths… And my knitting is entirely mood-driven these days. I will not knit a thing unless I absolutely feel like knitting it. There’s only one way out: store-bought dishrags.

Hold me.

Love,
Kay

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. I offer you an alternative. Find the nearest senior center gift shop. Nicely knitted/crocheted dishcloths can almost always be had at such a place, knitted by lovely senior ladies, with more time to knit, and fewer dishes to wash! AND – you’ll be supporting a good cause.

  2. Oh, Kay. Don’t despair. Lots of knitters on Etsy are still in the dishrag mood. (I’d offer to knit them myself, but I just finished 2 dozen for Christmas gifts. Now I’m really out of the mood.) These look nice:

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/161260277/set-of-20-handknit-cotton-dishcloths?ref=sr_gallery_2&ga_search_query=handknit+dishrag&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all

    • Holy dishcloth, Batman, that’s fantastic! I especially like the crochet ones, seeing as how I am crochet challenged. Very cool–thanks for the shoportunity, Alice.

  3. I have dish cloths that look like that too. They still work in that condition so I keep using them. I only knit new dish cloths when I see a pattern that I want to try, so I suggest that the next time you look around Ravelry you ask yourself, “how would that look as a dish cloth?”.

    My newest dish cloth came after Ann showed us her bubble cowl thingie with a view of an intriguing new stitch. I went directly to my dish cloth cotton and figured it out.

    • I was just wearing my bubble cowl thingie yesterday–that stitch pattern is perfect for a dishcloth: thick n dimensional.

      • OMG! Kay! Store bought dishrags? Store bought? Say it isn’t so! Please, please say it isn’t so! ( they just had to administer smelling salts). Look, before someone decides to do an intervention, or something, you gotta go an git some help. I know a good therapist, Dr. Marina Vool. She helped a dear sock knitter friend of mine who suddenly developed “Sock Block Syndrome”. Caught it in the nick of time, too. She almost went over the edge, that close was my friend to buying a 16 pack of crew socks. Don’t worry dahling, the doctor is booked for the next six months, but she owes me a favor. We’ll hook you up soon.

        In the meantime, take heart! There are a few things that you might do while waiting to see the therapista. First, buy all new for your next dishrag– new needles, a couple of new balls of the cotton yarn, a new container for your project (Barnes and Boble bags are great). All new for a new beginning. Then, limit your time (or # of rows) that you will do in a sitting. Setting a timer, here, is a good strategy. Once the bell goes off, do not allow yourself to do anymore dishrag knitting for a minimum of an hour (hope you can stand the wait…). Also, consider Ann’s suggestion of using the “bubble cowl thingy” pattern. Perhaps deep in your MDK subconscious, you’re feeling is that a new format requires a new dishrag epic–uh–pattern. If none of this resonates with you, ASKBEW (above) has a nice idea.

        At any rate, we love hearing from you what-evah you decide.

        LoveDiane

        PS– of what purpose are the tea towels? Like if I would get some how would I use them?

        • Oh Diane, that’s the best thing I’ve read all day! X

          • ;)

        • Hilarious!

  4. Perhaps you could make Honey Cowl dishcloths!

  5. ‘A visitor’? What evil person would mention such a thing?

  6. Grammar Ninja here. It’s not a dishRAG if you buy it. Then it’s a dishcloth. Your Midwestern roots are showing, Kay…

    • I believe dishrag is appropriate…That’s what we call ‘em where I live :)

  7. *clutches pearls*

    Kay with store bought dishrags? I think I need a little lie down and some bourbon.

  8. I, however, want to knit nothing BUT dish cloths. Maybe we could trade!

  9. Oh no! Store bought dishrags just won’t do! You have to knit new ones! Just keep using the old ones til the mood strikes!

  10. Here’s a secret: If you break down and knit just one new one and put it in the drawer, it has magically powers that suck you into knitting 11 or so more to go with it. There’s magic in that new, bright, neat, shiny dishcloth. I’m not sure how it has such power, but it does. It wants others to join it. And you can’t help yourself. Then, the old ones get moved down a drawer for mopping up spills on the floor.

  11. Beside above suggestions (somehow landed underneath Ann’s comment) I ‘m thinking you can adapt your existing dishrags. Use your sewing machine to run a couple of lines of stitches along the edge of the good portion(s) of the cloth, then cut away the worn out section of the cloth. They will be smaller, but they’ll still be your hand knits.

    LoveDiane

  12. Perhaps your dishrag knitting funk is delayed mourning over the closure of the Peaches and Cream mill.

    • OH YES.

  13. The bottle of wine on your counter tells the whole sad tale–you’ve been hitting the sauce and so have no taste for wholesome pursuits like knitting dishcloths. Unless it’s a bottle of olive oil in which case I really don’t know what to say.

    That visitor is a true friend–tough love, wot?

    • It’s cooking sherry left behind by the same strong-minded friend. Well, it’s real sherry but so far I’ve managed to reserve it for cooking. (If the Campari runs out, watch out). And I deserve taking some grief for the state of the tea towels, after all the beautiful ones she’s brought me that I’ve immediately relegated to The Archive for safekeeping on grounds that they are too good.

      • Linen tea towels get better with use and last for years. Once you’ve used them, those cotton ones will be archived. Plus if you love to iron, instant gratification.

      • You’re not saving them because they’re too good. You’re saving them because they might make a really great __________________ (table runner, apron, table cloth, bag lining, quilt patch) some day in the limitless sewing future to the joys of which your friend (let’s call her “Sherry”) has not yet succumbed. Get that gal a session with Herr Doktor Pfaff!

      • Who was it who said knitting was meant to be used, loved and worn out? ;o)

  14. Oh, I so get the dishrag slump. Am in the middle of diving for pattern goodness in the ‘dishcloth calendar-along’ for a (sort of) mega-production for our upcoming Christmas market; and for pattern-reading classes. Bises! –KAF

  15. You could ask your friends to knit you a cloth; then you’d have a hundred before you knew it and you’d have to auction the 90 extras off for a good cause.

    And they do still work a bit raggy. Getting all hoity-toity with the new tea towels is the root of this problem, I think!

    • Wise words, Mary. Wise words. New tea towels are the troublemakers.

  16. We have a few that look like yours too. My husband uses them to death and has been hinting that I need to knit some more. If I get the urge, will gladly knit a couple for you too. Just tell me what colours NOT to use.

  17. I think I see part of the problem: All your dishcloths are the same ballband pattern. You’re probably tired of that pattern because you’ve done it so often you could do it in your sleep! Cast around on Ravelry, Knitting at Play, other online sources of free or cheap patterns, your various stitch dictionaries, etc. for richly-textured patterns that would make good dishcloths!

    But if you have to go store-bought, go for Dobie sponges. They last longer and scrub better than any store-bought dishcloth I’ve seen in the past 30-odd years!

  18. “The fact is, I’ve not been in the dishcloth knitting mood for a while now.”

    *Blink* *Blink*

    Looks for other impending signs of the Apocalypse.

  19. Yarn Harlot was knitting up a bunch of dishclothes on Aug 9 in a Bee Stitch, white cotton. So neat, so pristine, made me want to start a bunch. Of course my dishcloth and tea towel assortment is quite a mess, so who am I to judge?

  20. Store bought dishrags are OK, but Kay Gardiner, the Goddess of Dishcloths, with store bought dishrags? The horror! The horror! (I hope you get your dishcloth mojo back. I was a big admirer of the dishcloth mojo….)

  21. In my world, that lack of dishcloth mojo is a good sign—when I am under stress or depressed, dishcloths are my go-to comfort knitting and crocheting. I lost my job about six years ago, and I still haven’t reached the bottom of the big Trader Joe’s bag that I filled to over-flowing with warshrags. And yes, they aren’t as much fun since Elmore-Pisgah closed—remember all the special seasonal and holiday colorways they used to make? Whatever happened to celebrating Halloween with a very special orange and black dishcloth? I know you can combine black yarn and orange yarn and make a dishrag, but it’s not as much fun as the variegated.

  22. You made me smile, on what is an absolutely crappy (and cold – coldest day on record in Toronto – minus 12.3 Celsius) day here. I am working on dishcloths now, and remember how much I love that particular pattern. Hang in – the urge will return.

  23. dang! this post and thread almost made me put down the baby sweater I am knitting for my expected 4th grandson to knit dishclothes!! since I only have store bought ones here with me—I am in the eastern caribbean serving for 2 yrs in the US peace corps….now next on my what I need to knit list are dishclothes of course ;-)