Plan, organise and knit

We slow down and relax during December and January. The garden produces a few herbs and fruit so it only needs watering, Hanno mows the lawn on his ride-on mower and apart from excursions to the backyard in the early morning and evening, we spend time inside, out of the heat. I use the time to plan for the year ahead, clean and organise cupboards and drawers, and I knit. Every couple of years I knit a 10 - 12 dishcloths for our use here and I might do a few more fancier ones for gifts. I use the end pieces of knitting cotton I've used during the year on other projects. It provides me with dishcloths for the kitchen and it uses cotton that might otherwise be wasted. This year I'm also making a shawl for myself. I have two others. I love knitting them because they're so easy and they keep me cosy and warm during the winter. In our climate, we rarely have special clothes for winter. A cardigan or jumper with a shawl is all I need for even the coldest day here.


I'm very fortunate to have been sponsored by Ecoyarns for several years now so I have a good supply of high quality, environmentally sound and ethically produced cotton and wool. Many years ago I used to knit with the cheapest wool and cotton I could buy but now I know that it's worth the extra money to buy the best I can afford. The amount of time given to homemade knits means I want them to last and look good for years. I have full confidence in the cotton and wool I use from Ecoyarns and I'm happy to knit for my grandchildren and have those garments on their young skin. I think we can be exposed to a lot of elements in our daily lives that may not be good for us. Sometimes it's the air we breathe, sometimes it's something we eat or wear or use on our skin. I try to not add to that by using yarns I'm not sure of. At the moment I'm using Eco-Organic Cotton Clouds in the Virga Blue colour for my shawl. I'm knitting on circular bamboo needles in the simplest pattern possible.  The project after this will be for my granddaughter and I think it will be this little dress.


I'm pleased to tell you that Ecoyarns is expanding its focus to provide a wider range of products. They are a socially responsible company and will choose their products by taking into account manufacturing processes, environmental impact, animal welfare, women's welfare, impacts on the local community and Fair Trade. Salihan and her husband Richard plan to offer us more information on their website so we can make informed choices and be certain of what we buy. We'll see more signs of that as the year progresses.  If you've not shopped online before, I recommend Ecoyarns to you as a trustworthy business. Salihan goes beyond the necessary and normal and provides exceptional service and very beautiful ethically produced yarns. Ecoyarns' details are always in my right side column.


When I'm not knitting, one of the important things we do at this time of year is plan and organise so we go into the new year prepared and with a general idea of what's going to happen. Organising menu plans, revising routines, cleaning cupboards and drawers, mending, knitting, filling in a diary and calendar now, all help me later in the year when it's much busier.  Of course, the unexpected will also happen but when it does, it's easier to cope with if we are organised. When all the work of the year is done and the coming year is planned as much as it can be, I plant myself in a comfy chair, pick up my needles and knit. Sitting back with my soft cottons, knitting row upon row allows me to think about life and what I want from it as the weeks go by. Knitting is like meditation with its repetition and it helps the mind reach a relaxed focus.
Oh yes, here she is again watching as I wind cotton on my swift. She was mesmerised by it and sat there staring for quite some time.

Knitting isn't a seasonal activity for me, I do it year-round. I generally knit with wool in winter and cotton in summer but I mix it around too. There are no rules, I do what I feel like and that makes it all the more relaxing. I like to knit simple patterns that I don't have to think about too much. What are your favourite knits? What's that? You don't knit!  Well, get yourself some knitting cotton, cast on 30 stitches and keep knitting row upon row of whatever stitch is easiest for you.  Knit a square and when it's as big as you want it, cast off. That's your first dishcloth. When you finish, I'd love you to tell me about it.

35 comments

  1. Good morning Rhonda, I have bought myself some cotton to make dishcloths but I still haven't started. I have an icon of a YouTube clip on my iPad, about knitting a simple dishcloth, it is a very good video which I have watched a re-watched oodles of times. But I still haven't started yet, I don't know why I just don't go ahead and start, I guess you could unpick it if you make a mistake?? Have a lovely day.
    Fi

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  2. I do love the beautiful colours you have chosen for your shawl, the yarn looks so soft and lovely too. I knit a lot, it grounds me and allows me to make useful and thoughtful things for the people I love. Three knitted Jumpers and jackets have been on the needles the past months. Norwegian wool Kofter. Warm knits are lovely and cosy in winter. I usually knit in cotton during Summer, or I sew by hand. Find wool a bit too warm to work with when temperatures rise. Take care, and have a lovely week all three. Pam in Norway

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  3. Oh look at those little ears sitting to attention! Gosh she makes me chuckle. I have used eco-yarns on my waldorf dolls, their colours are lovely and I love the texture to the cotton. Beautiful!

    xx

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  4. Hi Rhonda, my mum taught me to knit when I was 8yrs old (51yrs ago), & I've not had empty needles since, (& was a great sense of amusement to my kids when my eyes would close, but the needles kept on going), I love a bit of detail in my patterns just for interest sake, with cables being a favourite, it's a wonderful pastime, no wonder they taught the injured soldiers (yrs ago) to knit, relaxing, but also giving that sense of achievement we all need. It's nice to see young people wanting to learn, I worried it was going to be a lost art, put a few knitters together -- endless chatter, information sharing, etc..etc...

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  5. What a joy to read your blog today! I too am a knitter - have been for 50 years- and can't imagine not having yarn and needles in my life. It is my reward at the end of a busy day, and never fails to soothe me.

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  6. Hi Rhonda,

    Love your blog and my favourite knitting is socks and I've also taken to crocheting.

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  7. There is always something on my needles, Rhonda! I learned to knit when I was in graduate school and had four teenagers at home. It was learn to knit or learn to drink. Knitting was more fun! :) I have socks in a pouch that goes with me everywhere so when I have a few random minutes I can knit. I turn out a pair a month easily. And, I keep something by my chair for in the evenings. And, in the summer, it is in my kitchen so I can get a row or two in while waiting on my canner... For me, it is all about the random moments and having something productive to do. My Mother always requests a dozen dishcloths for her birthday and my sister's children, when they were small, always wanted their "special wash cloth" and "sliddy socks". As you, I buy the best I can as I feel my time is valuable and I want things to last for generations. I still have the sweater and booties my Great-Grandmother knit for me over 60 years ago!

    I love reading how you plan your year. It is a good lesson for me and helps me to think ahead. All things seem possible right now; we'll see how it fairs in summer!

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    1. Aw, Matty, I love your post! I have four little ones and I knit in the stolen moments too - and for the sake of sanity ;)
      -jaime

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  8. Haven't done anything when it comes to yarn.
    Coffee is on

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  9. Love your knitted washcloths. I have about given up on learning to crochet, my fingers and hands just have a mind of their own! Have not tried knitting....maybe one day? The dress pattern for you granddaughter is so adorable. I have been working on plans for this new year too. Also going through closets, containers and drawers, cleaning out and deciding what to donate and to which organizations. This will take the next few months I think, to get to everything. Blessings to you and Hanno, Carolyn in Florida

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    1. I'm in FL too! :) I still cannot figure out crochet, despite a friend trying to teach me, but I find knitting easier, it just makes more sense to me. I encourage you to try it, maybe you'll find it easier as well.

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    2. I am on the northwest gulf Coast of Florida. Any where near me? Thank you for the encouraging words to try knitting. It sounds like people find it calming and relaxing, and I surely could use a little of that ! Ha! Ha!

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  10. I actually found your blog years ago when I was searching online for "how to knit!" So grateful <3
    -jaime

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  11. yes i got back to knitting after finding Rhonda's blog too; i love knitting cables & i'm also trying to learn crochet other than the humble granny crochet.
    Gracie is getting big & those ears! too cute!
    a great week to you, Hanno & Gracie
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  12. I have knitted some face cloths and crocheted and edging. I've done these is soft Aussie cotton. They are just beautiful to use. Some have gone home with my son, DIL and Grandbub. My daughter loves them and requests them. In the winter I crochet with wool and the summer with cotton. I have a shawl that I will be making once the weather cools down a little. It's just too hot for a big project right now.
    I do love that colour blue. Silly me read it as Viagra Blue. Oops.

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  13. My favorite things to knit are washcloths/dishcloths, as they are portable, easy, and useful (and great gifts). I often use the cotton yarn left over from dishcloths to knit some matching coasters. I also like to knit baby hats--again, portable and the pattern I use is quite easy, it just always takes me a few rows to get used to knitting on DPNs again.

    I bought some pretty yarn on sale and a shawl pattern to go with it when our local yarn store closed (the owner retired--happy for her but I still really miss the shop!). I would like to start on that soon--it's a very light yarn, so will make a nice summer wrap for when I just need something around my shoulders when I'm in an air conditioned building.

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  14. Thank you so much for the inspiration x we have just moved on to our 30ac bush block and going back to basics and off grid . I love to crochet and teaching myself to knit so wash cloths are the perfect thing for me to practice on 😀 Can't wait to show you when I get some made . Have always loved your blog , will be stalking the recipes and how too's daily xx thanks again
    Kris

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  15. ....both little black ears are standing up straight now I see.

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  16. Whilst having cuddles on the sofa with my poorly little girl I am finally making a dishcloth. I'm using your pattern from the Down to Earth book. It's my first knitting project, can't wait to see how it turns out! Love that dress, it's beautiful. Thanks for the gentle nudge x Nia

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  17. I'm not a great knitter but inspired by you Rhonda I knitted a few dishcloths last year and learned a lot I can tell you. I must start again and graduate to some nice hand washers. Thanks for the inspiration to knit.

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  18. Sorry about another comment Rhonda. You might have mentioned it but do you have a special shawl pattern? I think I am ready to knit a shawl which is all we need up here in Mackay in Winter. Thankyou, Pauline xx

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    1. I'm not sure how special it is HRK, but this is what I do and it makes a nice tidy shawl. Most of the knitting is plain stitch but you'll have to learn how to nit forward and back (KFB) too. It's simple once you do it a couple of times. Here a you tube vid on how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwKPg9ZHxrk KFB will increase one stitch on every row.

      Cast on three stitches.
      At the beginning of every row from now on, KFB, then knit plain stitch to the end of the row.
      That's it - just do that till the shawl is the size you want.

      Good luck. Let me know how you go with it.

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  19. My knitting used to be largely for baby gifts, but I'm rather out of that format at this point in my life. Maybe that will resurface?

    Some years ago, a friend of mine used washcloths (and slippers) that her great-aunt knit for her. I asked for the patterns, and found that the slippers seemed too slippery for me on our tile floors (similar to http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/basic-chunky-slipper - there are a lot of this type around) but the washcloths were great (https://app.box.com/s/abmmg1xufttgptywmmamuif9bahws2j7) and I found a variation with a 3-stitch edge instead of 2, that I like a bit better. I've been knitting these for years. When my father-in-law died unexpectedly, while my husband was visiting him, I hurriedly gathered up our toddler daughter and flew to where they were (hubby had driven out) - and arrived with nothing for my hands to be occupied with. A quick trip to the local store for needles and yarn (Lily Sugar 'n Cream which is widely available in the US) gave me something to do with my hands, rather than just feeding my face.

    That washcloth pattern can be expanded into baby blankets and shawls. For the shawl, you just stop when the size suits you, thus avoiding the decrease part which I always find more tedious than the increase side.

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  20. What beautiful yarns ~ they look so snuggly. And Gracie is too funny:)

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  21. I crochet very ugly dishcloths but they work just fine. I am using up bits and ends of cotton right now, too.

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  22. I tried knitting when I was a kid, but never seemed to get the hang of it (my stitches always wound up so tight. . . ). Then a few years ago I tried to learn to crochet, inspired by your dishcloths and thinking that would be a simple project to start with. Using YouTube videos I learned to single crochet (and kind of double crochet) but never made anything but practice rows. I haven't given up on the idea of learning, but I've stalled out for now. Instead I'll just enjoy looking at the beautiful things that you, Jamie at Ngo Family Farm, Heather at Beauty That Moves, and Lucy at Attic 44 make. A friend is going to show me and my Mom how to use a knitting loom and I hope that will enable my Mom to get back to making - her memory loss means she can't knit and crochet like she used to - and maybe I will finally learn to knit too! Beth in MN

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  23. I have knit on and off since I was five years old. I love knitting, and also knit year round I find it very relaxing. I like to use circular knitting needles even when knitting flat as I find them more comfortable on my hands. I have just finished a pair of socks and also have a shawl and a beanie on my needles. My beanie is being knit with Zealana Cozi bought from Ecoyarns it's lovely!

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  24. I love knitting with cotton. I have made washers in the Dutch tradition, squares folded over into a rectangle and sewn to make a mitten. Great for small hands and arthritic hands . I make them to size for each person.

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  25. I usually have a knitting or crochet project on the go. Thanks for talking about Ecoyarns; I will check them out.

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  26. I'm cleaning and sorting for the opposite reason, lol, not that cold here but unusually grey and dreary, cloud has settled firmly over Michigan for the last fortnight and it ain't leaving!

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  27. You are an inspiration Rhonda, and a very talented person in the domestic realm. I am afraid I have to report that I took paid lessons to lean to knit; and it dd not tun out too well. I have been told that some people just don't have the knack. However, I can sew garden and cook; so I am good with that and it seems to work. I would have loved to knit I think; but might have to let that go. In any case, I am enjoying working at home more now.

    That Grace is a darling.

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    1. Hopflower, you're too kind. There are plenty of things I can't do or I struggle to do them, crochet being one of them. What I admire about you is that you try, you give it a go. That's something to be proud of. xx

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  28. Hello Rhonda,

    Do you knit socks? I just learned how this past fall and am in LOVE with them. There are so many, many different patterns and gorgeous sock yarns out there that every pair is a new experience. So nice to be able to make something that is small (think quick to knit) and so colorful and so useful!

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  29. I have been knitting on and off since I was about 7 (nearly 40 years) and am definitely going through an on period, I can't stop knitting! I always have several things on the go at once and always carry my current knitted sock in my handbag for 'emergency' knitting, ie any spare minute or two I have when I'm out and about. Such a valuable skill!
    Love the blog, as always.

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  30. Hi, there are not too many days in the last 50 years that I haven't knitted or crocheted. These days I do so for charity and give my items to several different charities. I raid charity shops for yarn and let people know I am always grateful for any unwanted wool. I also check gumtree and e bay for wool and buy wool from these sources. I nearly always knit or crochet whilst I am reading your blog. Whilst travelling in the car I usually knit until the sun heats up my hands. I just enjoy the whole process locating the wool, the knitting/crocheting and then donating my work.
    Regards
    Melinda (SE Qld)

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