Permaculture knitting

11 February 2009
Thanks for that previous post, Sharon. The money being raised for the fire victims is growing steadily. Australians have always been generous and supportive in times of crisis so it's good to see that tradition remains strong. The Red Cross is accepting donations both here in Australia and from their locations around the world. You can read about their current efforts here.

It seems I'm always running late these days. The book proposal that was supposed to be in on January 31 still hasn't been sent and after two busy days at work I plan on writing for the rest of this week and have it in on February 15. It is late because I made some last minute changes and my agent, Abby, was gracious enough to not mind the missed deadline. Work was particularly busy this week because I'm starting some new programs and we're planning our move to the new building and all that brings with it. Monday and Tuesday were HOT here, there is no air-conditioning at work so when I came home, I crashed. I'm still feeling a bit tired now, even with a good night's sleep, so I hope I come good during the day.

So, what is on my agenda today? I'll bake bread, sweep the floors and do a general tidy up and then settle into my sewing room to write most of the day. Hanno did a lot of gardening while I was at work so everything is fine outside. I have seedlings ready to plant in the garden and all the tomatoes need to be potted up. I hope to do that tomorrow when I'll see to the worm farm as well. They've been a bit neglected recently but they usually do okay as long as they have food and water.

I wrote last week that Rose had sent me some cotton called Down to Earth. When I start my new project this morning - at morning tea I plan on starting a set of dishcloths for Sarndra and Shane - I'll use some of Rose's cotton and see how it knits up. I'm knitting a set of aqua and red cloths so I'll use some of my Lions cotton for the thin red stripes.

These small squares of cotton that we knit for our wash or dish cloths can be made into other things as well. I showed the pot holder I'd half finished a week or so ago. Well, here it is now, finished, with some very quick hand quilting to attach the back to the front. All I did with it was to knit a square of Lions organic thick cotton, cut a square of cotton fabric to size and then quilt the front to the back. I'm already using it and it's worked really well. I have those saucepans with metal handles so pot holders are always used in my kitchen.

But there are other projects as well. When you've knitted up your own set of cloths, you could knit a few cleaning mitts. Just knit two rectangles (or one long one) the size of your hand and sew them together, leaving a hole for your thumb - in the same way we make a thumb hole in fingerless mittens. These make very good dusters or mitts for cleaning or washing dishes. If you have a swiffer, you could knit longer rectangles to replace the synthetic ones you need to buy replacements for. Two squares, some lining and a strap would make a sweet little shoulder purse for a little girl, or a big one. Or two squares and lining would also make a very serviceable padded digital camera pouch.

As you can see you can turn your squares into quite a few small items that will serve you well. Knitting the squares improves your knitting and you can experiment with different patterns, they're like modern day samplers. Women in the past used their samplers as decorations but we can put our samplers to use replacing products we used to buy. It's like permaculture knitting - we're getting multiple uses from the one thing.

Are you using your cotton squares for things other than dish and wash cloths? If you are I'd love to know what you're doing.

ADDITION: If you're looking for some good reading today, I recommend A Farmstead Pilgrimage to you. I have a handful of blogs I read when I have the time and Kris's has become a firm favourite. Even that first page, without any scrolling back, is a delight. Grab a cuppa and enjoy a visit there. Oh, her feedburner is broken and she can't find a way to fix it. If you can help can you contact her and offer your help. I'm sure she's apreciate if very much.


  1. You give some lovely ideas for how to use the squares. I'm trying to improve my knitting at the moment so these will make a great practice project. Thanks for the inspiration! Oh, and I love the idea of 'permaculture knitting'! I'm trying to be a bit greener with my crochet at the moment - using up all my scrap yarn, buying organic wool etc so your post is very timely for me!

  2. You are really busy! I'm thinking about you and your fellow countrymen! Scary Times!

  3. The fabric on the potholder is so pretty. Have you started to sell your soap yet?

  4. Rhonda what a great idea I use cut off and hemed towels for the swiffer but these would be so much better!!! Thank you


  5. I love it -- "permaculture knitting". Off to the shop with a smile on my face.

  6. I use the honeycomb dishcloth pattern from Homespun living knit up in alpaca yarn as fingerless gloves (or as we call them at the museum I work at, muffatees). The waffles make them nice and warm, and the pattern is so pretty no one knows it was intended to be used as a washcloth.

    Thank you for all the other neat ideas you came up with for using the washcloths. My favorite is the potholder.

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    You're pot holder is an awesome idea - what a cleaver lady you are! I haven't made anything out of the a knitted square except for dishcloths and fingerless mittens so far but I did teach myself how to crochet at the end of January and I'm working on a baby blanket for my brother and his wife for their first baby. I've made about 13 squares now and aim to make one a day. It's a nice way to relax after work.

  8. Hi Rhonda
    I knitted my daughters a good supply of wash cloths this Christmas. I noticed the other evening my eldest was using some of hers as place mats.
    Hope your rest of your week is good.

    Pippa x

  9. missfrugalintrainingFebruary 11, 2009 9:57 am

    So always come up with practical ideas, I was thinking about buying a bag for my camera,now I can make my own because I do know basic croshae...I guess i need to stop thinking retail and start thinking homemade...thx again

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    I love your knitting posts having never been a knitter, but love sewing & quilting. Your posts have inspired me to pick up the needles & after a few wobbly & holey efforts (& that was just plain knitting !!) I can now knit a neat (still plain) dishcloth & have made some for gifts which have been well received. With inspiration from you I decided to try my hand at purl as well so looked on internet for instructions & made a heart pattern face washer for my granddaughter which she loves !! So thank you Rhonda - you inspire us in many ways. One question - where in Australia can you get organic knitting cotton from ?
    Best wishes, Jeni

  11. Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. I am always interesting in knowing what you're all doing.

    Suzen, I have a batch of soap here made about a month ago but I haven't sold any. My plan was to sell soap and dishcloths at Christmas but I didn't have the time to do it. I will have a bunch of loofas ready in a month or so, I might sell a loofa-soap combo.

    Larissa, I like the sound of your muffatees. Deb at Homespun Living sure has some lovely projects. Her waffle weave is my favourite dishcloth pattern.

    Chantel, well done with the baby blanket. What a thoughtful gift that will make.

    missfrugalintraining, you're right, it is a matter of changing how you think. Many of what we buy can be made at home and you end up with a better product and the satisfaction of being able to provide your own needs.

    Jeni, that's great! I am often surprised now by the reaction to homemade gifts. They weren't always as popular as they are now. I bought my Lions organic cotton from Spotlight when it was on sale. However, you can buy organic cotton here:

    and here:

  12. I've started knitting with the Down-to -earth thread and I find that it will need two washes to improve absorbency and it crochets up beautifully. So I assume it will knit up nice too. As it has a blend of acrylic/cotton, it dries quicker that the pure cotton ones I have.

    I've never been able to find the Lions brand of cotton in spotlight... are you able to post a picture of what the ball looks like so I can go and look.

  13. If it is available to you, you might like the idea of adding a layer of Insul-Bright to your potholders. It is an insulating liner that you can sandwich between your other layers. I've used it for a potholder and have some more I'm planning to use in a tea cozy.

  14. Hi Rhonda, just popped in to read up on what you've been up to - lovely to see that you've been able to spend some time with your family recently :) Thank you also for posting those recipes - I will be trying both of them once the weather cools down a little. Best, becca (from ALS)

  15. I use mine as a pot holder when warming a dish in the micro wave oven. It is also a nice finger napkin in a pinch. They also make nice trivets.

  16. Rhonda,
    I found this on AOL, while reading about your devastating fires. I dont know if you have seen it. This story will surely warm your heart, as it did mine

  17. The squares make very good heat-proof mats when you want to put something hot on the table. For hot plates one will do, for something from the oven layer them up.

  18. Just found your blog, really like the message. I've always wondered what people did with the knitted washcloths. now it makes sense to me!

  19. Hello Rhonda.
    I love to read your blog and dream of more space and chooks and things! I just wanted to let you know that is up and running. We are encouraging people to auction or donate hand made items to aid the long-term rebuilding of the devastated communities in Victoria.
    Just in case you might be able to help us.
    Thank you so much and thanks for your lovely blog too!


  20. Just a quick note to let you know there is an award waiting for you at Margaret's Ramblings, you deserve it. Our first Buddy's Friday went well with 9 folk participating. It is so great that so many are willing to help others. Margaret

  21. Hi Rhonda,

    I knitted a square in a cable-knit pattern, then cut a corner out of an old pillowcase and lined the square with it. Then, I folded the lined square in half and whip-stitched the side and bottom closed and use it as an eyeglass case! I get quite a few requests for them...Thanks for all of your inspiration!

  22. Great idea, Jennifer, thanks for sharing it here.

    Thank you Margaret.

  23. I've been using the dishcloth patterns that you've posted to knit up squares in different patterns for a baby blanket. I'm attempting to make them all the same size, then sewing them together like a patchwork quilt. I'm making it in a natural cotton so that the textures of the knitting are the focus. It's working up pretty well!

  24. Followed a link to this post. In the picture there are two types of yarn. One looks like normal yarn, while the other, the set to the left, looks funny, almost a strap (can't think of a better word), like the thread has already been woven or knitted. Am I looking at it wrong?



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