"'Tis the gift to be simple."
- Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr.
Handkerchiefs. Once they were given as gifts. I’m old
enough to have
been a recipient of several; all were slipped inside birthday cards
sent to me by my Great Aunt Dot Skale. Other childhood presents have
long been forgotten, but I still remember the handkerchiefs. Especially
the pale yellow one, with shiny embroidery. My aunt took the time to
explain that its fibers were made from a pineapple. Imagine that. I did
and still do.
In this period of economic hardship for so many, knitters can lead
the way back to the time-honored respectability of simple gifts. June's
a great month for starting with a wedding present that is totally
utilitarian and will never go out of style: dishcloths. Two couples are
on my list. Casting about the cotton yarns and pattern choices, I
wondered about how I might make these wedding dishcloths special.
Collection Cotton Bamboo - a cool blend of cotton and renewable
Organic Cotton - a 100% undyed organic cotton in 4 natural shades.
Several years ago, I wrote about
the Bauhaus, the German art school
(1919-1933) that strived to bring good design into our everyday life.
Uniting form and function, their influence can still be found
everywhere from art to architecture. In tribute to two of their most
celebrated faculty, Josef and Anni Albers, I wrote two Bauhaus
dishcloth/washcloth pattern; knit and crochet. Mindful of the Bauhaus
ideal of combining design and materials to make a beautiful everyday
product, I decided to try the pattern in a new yarn, Recycled
made from the excess fabric of T-shirts. I was counting on the yarn's
softness, its texture, and lushness of its color to create a uniquely
different stitch definition, drape and feel.
I was not disappointed. Working up quickly, 48 stitches on size 8
needle, 4.5 stitches to an inch, I soon could see that the yarn's
character created enough visual interest that the stripes in the
original pattern were not needed. In fact, after knitting several
dishcloths, I switched to even less complicated patterns. First, using
a basket weave stitch: 6 knit, 6 purls, 48 stitches. The elegance of
each little square of purls inspired me to go even more basic, moving
to the classic garter square pattern, my all time favorite dishcloth.
For an extra finishing touch, with a contrasting color, I single
crocheted a border. All three patterns are sustainable and quick knits,
crucial if you need to to finish them in time. Mixing color and
them a visual richness.
Presentation is important in the
giving of simple gifts. So I'm
planning to wrap my sweet bundle of handmade usefulness in tissue paper
with a hand-knit ribbon tied into a bow. Remembering back to my Great
Aunt Dot's note about the pineapple handkerchief, my own beginnings on
this journey, in my card to the newlyweds, I intend to add a few lines
about the yarn, how the cotton was reclaimed and re-used. And of
course, I won't forget our family's best wishes for the new couples.
May they enjoy a long and happy life together.
'Tis a gift to be simple. Give from your hands and your heart.
Cast on 6 stitches in the yarn of your choice.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K1, p1
Repeat row 2 until desired length reached.