Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not just a knitted dishcloth

"The quality of a thing comes from the knowledge and beauty it carries more than from its expense." ~ William Coperthwaite, author of "A Handmade Life"

I'd hope to make a pair of socks for February's 'Year in Colour' challenge project -- I even cast on a pair using a funky orange twist yarn -- but I put those aside as I'd like to get Jack's birthday socks finished first.

But I still needed a project for this month. While I think orange looks beautiful on pumpkins and monarch butterflies, it's not really a colour that we wear much of. As we hand wash all our dishes and I needed to make up some more dishcloths, I thought this cotton yarn would make a colourful addition to our linen drawer. At least this one will be easy to find!

I've mentioned my love for quick-knit projects and dishcloths are the ultimate in quick knits. I like to always have something on the go and these are items I can start and finish in one sitting. They're easy, inexpensive and you can play with colourful yarns you might not otherwise consider.

But I haven't always make dishcloths, nor did I appreciate their intrinsic goodness. I remember saying 'thank you' as I received a set of handmade cloths as a wedding shower gift, while feeling some disdain as if I really wanted to say "that's it?" The time the gift-giver took to handcraft those cloths, imbuing those simple things with love and blessings as Lucas and I began a new life together was completely lost on my 23-year-old self.

Since then, I've distanced myself from that girl who cared too much about matching dish sets and expensive crystal. Now I admire people who take the time to craft the tools of daily life and I find ways to make or use those items with care. I've even become the person who gives handmade dishcloths as gifts.

Taking the time to make something as simple as a dishcloth in a busy life filled with competing demands can be a tough sell. If you can buy dishcloths at the dollar store, does it even make sense to make them anymore? I think so.

"Nothing is too small or insignificant to be well designed," writes Coperthwaite. "Paying attention to what is small and subtle can make a great deal of difference in the world around us."

We still have factory-made dishcloths in our linen drawer, but when it comes time to wash up, I love that the kids chose my handmade creations over the store-bought ones. It's heartening to know that a simple act like knitting dishcloths is helping to cultivate their appreciation for finding beauty and worth in the simple things.

And maybe when they're all grown up and they receive handmade things, they'll look the gift-giver in the eye, say thank you -- and mean it.

P.S. There are still a few days left in the Valentine's Day Giveaway, so if you haven't left a comment yet, it's not too late!


Mama Pea said...

Being a true lover of the color orange, I couldn't help but fall in love with your new dishcloth! (Did you mean it to look like a pumpkin? Because it surely does!) Lovely stitches you used in it also.

Ah, handmade. I so wish more people would (re?)discover their own talent(s) and get back to creating with their hands and hearts.

Lucas said...

Well said (written?) Love. But it might be a good idea to point out that the article mentioned in this post will not be in the drawer for long. I am sure our daughter will feel it is better put to use as clothing for her doll "Jenny" then for such menial tasks as a cleaning implement. Just proves she has good taste. (Like her Mum!)


Erin said...

Great minds think alike - I've been knitting washcloths and hand towels the past week in the evenings! Love the orange!

Cary Ann said...

I really enjoyed your post. I love handmade things too. I love the color of the dishcloth. Hope you have a great weekend.

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