Monday, June 25, 2012

All Knit and No Perl

People think I'm kidding when I tell them that the only thing I can knit is squares ... or rectangles - but generally straight lines, back and forth, on one needle and then on the other.

Knitting is still a very complex skill to me, and for me, the fact that I can knit anything is still pretty remarkable. I can't even wrap my brain around knit patterns, and my teenager, to whom I explained the first steps in learning to knit, has surpassed me by leaps and bounds. If we were racing, I'd be the lazy rabbit, and she'd have crossed the finish line days ago.

Unfortunately, I don't have the attention span for much more than a square (or a rectangle). I don't sit still very well. There just always seems to be something that needs to be done, and I haven't mastered the skill of knitting with my hands while looking elsewhere. So, I couldn't knit while I was watching a movie or at a ballgame, for instance.

I can knit while listening, and over the course of a couple of years, while we were enjoying the talents of the late Robert Jordan with his Wheel of Time Series, I knitted many squarish shapes.

The problem is that I couldn't find much use for my talents. I didn't have the patience to make something big enough to wear, and since, especially early on, I wasn't adept enough to figure out how to make all of the same size squares, making a blanket wasn't really going to happen either.

So, I just had all of these knit squares laying around, while I continued to practice knitting, and not really making any progress beyond back and forth, swapping needles.

A friend offered novice knitters (and experienced, too, for those who were interested) an opportunity to do some good with our (lack of) skill, and invited us to participate in knitting squares (6"x6") that would be sewn together by her 4-H group to make blankets. It was a great project, and one I was pleased to be a part of.

And I finally learned how to make multiple squares (mostly) the same size :).

But that still didn't give me a use for all of the squarish pieces I'd already knit.

Then, one day, while I was looking at the nasty sponge Deus Ex Machina liked to have for doing the dishes, it dawned on me. Those knit pieces fit nicely in hand and were, actually, just the right size for washing dishes.

We've been using knit dish clothes for some time now, and I love them for so many reasons.

I like that they're reusable, because they can be laundered. Unlike the cellulose sponges we were using previously, these don't have to be thrown away after a month of hard use.

I like that they can be made using remnants - that is, for serious knitters (from whom I have received many tiny balls of leftover yarn), who might, occasionally, come to the end of a project with not enough yarn to start another, knitting dishcloths provides a use for what might, otherwise, be waste.

I like that if they get a hole, they can be repaired and, then, used some more. So, they're longer lasting, even, than a washcloth.

And I like that I can make them.

Knitting is one of those low-energy, low-impact skills that has a lot of value. I've seen all sorts of things knitted using all sorts of materials, including knit market baskets made from recycled plastic grocery bags.

If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd ask my grandmother to teach me to crochet ... and I'd actually learn, this time.

But since I can't, I'll keep plodding along with my knitting secure in the knowledge that, at least, I can make something useful.


  1. You hop on your electric bicycle and knit and pedal--ta da! Multitasking at it's finest!

    I do love my "grandma's washcloths" too. I just use an old soda bottle cap to scrape off the really stuck on gunk.

    Were you reading my blog when I knit my raincoat out of plastic shopping bags? I wish I still had that thing!

  2. I learned to knit right before my oldest was born, and have been knitting while I have been nursing for the past 4 years. It seems to work out well! Of course, now my youngest is almost 2, and he likes to grab at my knitting.

    My goal this year is to make sweaters for all of us...although I do much better at baby/toddler knits than anything else :-)

    I love my knit wash clothes! They always seem to work the best!

  3. I love my knitted dishcloths!

    I tend to use cotton, so when they really fall apart they go in the compost bin.

    If you ever feel the urge to try a different stitch,dishcloths are a perfect thing for practising without the finished product having to be perfect. Ribbing, moss stitch, stocking stitch, basket stitch all look great (and create a bit of texture) or knit in plain garter stitch but start with 3 stitches and increase every row and then decrease every row back to 3 stitches to make a diamond shaped cloth.

    If you knit rectangles (most likely 2 the same, but they don't have to match!) you could make fingerless mittens. Fold the rectangle over lengthways, sewing up the side. Leave a space for your thumb and then sew up the last bit of side seam (so you have a tube with a gap in the seam). Sew another one the same, et voila: handwarmers! These are great if it's a bit chilly but you still need your hands, or as a second layer under regular gloves.

    Happy knitting!