Knitting washcloths

2 July 2022
For the past couple of decades I've been knitting dishcloths. I generally knit some for gifts through the year and I make sure I always have eight or nine cloths in my kitchen linens drawer. Knitting is good for the soul. It slows you down, gives you a reason to sit and stay quiet while adding to the products that support you with your housework.

Above are my latest dishcloths. While Hanno was in hospital and the nursing home, I knitted some for Shane, my nephew Danny, Tricia and I'm just now finishing off a set for myself.  I knit a new set for myself every year and when the older cloths are no longer serviceable, they go into the rag bag for general cleaning and when they're worn out, to their final resting place in the compost heap. 


I use organic knitting cotton for my washcloths but any type of knitting cotton would do. Just make sure you DON'T use wool. It will shrink in hot water and take ages to dry. To buy online, try EcoYarns, Spotlight, in the US Peaches and Cream or Laughing Hens in the UK. I think 8 ply is the best weight but if you have lighter weight cotton, use two strands and knit them together.  I did this recently with Japanese 4 ply cotton it was easy to do and it looked really good.

Materials
  1. Either leftover knitting cotton or a ball or skein of cotton yarn.  You'll get about one and a half washcloths from one ball.
  2. Straight knitting needles. This doesn't have to be precise - either 4.00mm, 4.5mm or 5.00mm if you're in Australia, UK sizes - 8, 7 or 6, or US sizes - 6, 7 or 8.  I used 5mm needles for my washcloths.

Knitting Instructions:
Cast on and after three rows you'll increase the length of each row until you reach 50 stitches.
    
    Cast on 4 stitches
    Knit next 2 rows
    Next Row: Knit 2, Yarn Over, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 50 stitches

    Then you'll start to decrease:
    Next Row: Knit 1, Knit 2 together, Yarn Over, Knit 2 together, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 4 stitches left
    Knit 2 rows even
    Cast Off


This is what the first half of your dishcloth will look like. At this point, I start to decrease the length of each row.

If you're an absolute beginner, teach yourself to knit by watching these YouTube videos. It's not difficult. This beginners' dishcloth pattern is an ideal way to learn to knit because you'll be able to produce something while you learn. Expect to make mistakes, we all do when we learn anything new. Mistakes make you stop and think. 

All the stitches you'll need are in the list below:

I use organic cotton. It's soft, very absorbent and they can be used and added to your ordinary washing load. If they're stained, an overnight soak in sodium percarbonate - Napisan, Sard, Disan etc., will easily take care of the stains. They'll last for a couple of years if you use and care for them this way.  They're ideal for washing up by hand, wiping kitchen benches and for more general cleaning such as walls, doors, mirrors and glass.



These are some new skeins and lots of leftover balls of knitting cotton. This is how I use all those little bits of cotton and end up with new washcloths every year. There's no wastage, just repetitive stitches which, like meditation, relieve stress and add to our self-reliance.

Knitting has been part of human life for thousands of years and it's a really useful skill or have. Knitting washcloths may seem like such a simple activity you might wonder why I bother when I could easily go to the supermarket and buy cloths. Knitting is a small step and simple life is full of small steps. Living as I do isn't about large gestures or about complicated ways of doing things. Sometimes it's just sitting quietly and slipping stitches from one needle to another.

Please note:  Google has stopped feedburner which is the software used for email subscriptions.  I'm sorry but I can't add it back.  I'll announce every new post on Instagram. For those not on IG, you'll have to take the time to come in and check.


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Remember me?

29 June 2022

 


Hello!  Remember me? This cup of coffee is helping me get back into blog writing again; I've missed it. I think I'm ready to get back to the routine of writing about what I'm doing day-by-day and having my phone in my apron pocket so I can take photos when the opportunity arises. I feel it's an important part of my life now. I need to stay connected to you because most days I'm alone.  I still have family and close friends drop by and today I have Shane, Alex and Eve here. Shane is taking a few loads of things I no longer need to the recycle shop and dump.  I'll keep an eye on the kids and provide sandwiches, fruit and drinks as needed. Today's drink is freshly squeezed orange juice from a tree in the backyard.  What a delicious lifesaver that tree has been over the years.


This is one of the lemon trees in the backyard this morning. I've given buckets of lemons away but as you can see, there are still a lot to be enjoyed. Soon I'll squeeze juice to freeze for summer cordials. Summer without homemade lemon cordial doesn't make sense to me.

 

These strawberries weren't grown in my garden but they're local. I live in an area surrounded by strawberry and pineapple farms so we always take advantage of the local produce when it's in season.  It's always fresher and cheaper. It's an excellent way to help growers too. Every time I buy local it strengthens my community.


I changed my mind about keeping the vegetable garden. It makes mowing the lawn quite difficult, and we have three-quarters of an acre, so I decided to grow what I want to grow in tubs and pots. Shane removed the garden edging and I'm waiting for the grass to overtake the space again.  This is my first crop of tub-grown rainbow chard. I love this vegetable and it's very easy to preserve in the freezer so it's an easy choice for my first crop.  I've kept the herb garden too. I use a lot of herbs and it makes sense to me to grow and use them fresh instead of paying an arm and a leg for wilting herbs at the supermarket. Soon I'll be writing about what can be easily grown in pots and tubs and how to produce top quality herbs and vegetables in small spaces.


I've not got big loads of washing now. These towels are the result of family staying here but usually I have two towels, four dishcloths, numerous rags and bed linen to wash each week as well as my clothes. I still use my three ingredient homemade laundry liquid and it's still keeping everything clean without the use of nasty additives. It makes me shudder to look at the ingredient panel on bottles of laundry liquid and many of the other cleaners sold now. Please be careful when you choose because most of the items we wash are in contact with our skin when they're used.


I'm still happily working away in my kitchen. I cook lunch from scratch for myself every day and although I'm no longer cooking the meals Hanno loved, I've moved over to the foods I grew up eating. These include casseroles, soups, roast chicken, lamb chops, meat balls with pasta, curry and fish, although they will change with the seasons. I usually make enough for two or four meals so I don't have to cook every day and I have a nice stash of meals in the freezer when I don't feel like cooking.  I can write about that in the future if you're interested.


I no longer make my daily bread but I'm still making pizza bases and scones. I'm looking for the bread I'll stay with. Currently I'm trying oat bread which is okay but not something I want to eat every day. I think I'll end up with the local bakery's ancient grains bread. It stays fresh for a few days, it's tastes good after it's been frozen and there are no preservatives or other additives.

I'm keeping my bread in the bread bag I made a couple of years ago. You can read about it here

Thank you for the support you've given me and my family over the past few months. I did everything I promised Hanno I would do after he died and now I have to look after myself and carry on. I'm excited about what might be ahead.

I'll be back in a few days. Enjoy your time at home and let me know what you're doing there. 😊

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The first steps without Hanno

9 June 2022

Hello everyone. This is one of my first steps towards a new life without Hanno.  Most of you know he died on 25 May after a long period of medical tests, doctors' consultations and time in hospital. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia and brain cancer but it took months to reach that decision. I tried to look after him at home in the early days of his illness but he deteriorated quickly with new problems presenting every week. I gave back the Home Care Plan the government gave me for his home care and after he refused all further treatment, he went from the University Hospital to a nursing home where he spent his final days.


Sunny and I after our family lunch.

Our entire family was devastated and overwhelmed by his death, even though we knew it was coming after the diagnosis of brain cancer. We were told about it on 23 March and he died nine weeks later. It was so fast, and cruel.


L-R My grandchildren: Eve, Alex and Jamie at the German restaurant.


Alex and (DIL) Cathy with Kerry and Shane in the background.


Eve, looking very comfortable with a spade.


Jens (step son) and Alex fixing a down pipe.


Shane doing the edging behind one of the water tanks.

I've been surrounded by my beautiful family and I can't begin to tell you how much help, love and support they've given me. I invited everyone to lunch a couple of days after Hanno died and after lunch Sunny and I started cleaning up and everyone else went outside. Then I heard lawn mowers and wheel barrows being moved about and there they all were, mowing, trimming edges, pruning, and doing minor repairs on the outside of the house.

L-R: Kerry, David (nephew) and Shane.


My sister Tricia and nephew David arrived the following week and on Friday night we had a family dinner at Hanno's favourite German restaurant up in the mountains near here. Tricia and David have been a great help too. David put up a curtain, attacked some mould spots in the house and juiced oranges from our tree. Tricia made a huge difference by sorting through Hanno's clothes and taking them to various charity shops. She's helped with the decluttering too and as we go through all these processes, I feel like weights are being lifted from my shoulders. 



These beautiful tulips were sent by Clare Bowditch and Marty Brown.


My sincere thanks to everyone who sent cards, letters, messages, emails and flowers. They helped me and my family get through some very tough days. It's the small things that help normalise critical periods when life seems out of control.


(DIL) Sarndra with Alex planting a grevillea they gave me.


I'm feeling optimistic and eager to move forward now. Of course, Hanno's spirit will always be here but now I have to live my life learning new things and cutting back while I refine my life and share what I learn. If I can do that it will reflect the life I lived with Hanno and that will be enough for me.

I intend to continue on with my blog, writing about what I'm doing, with small bits and pieces on Instagram. The bulk of my writing will be on my blog so if you don't want to miss anything, follow me. I've learned so much about budgeting and paying bills that I thought I already knew but because Hanno organised our money, bills and banking, I only knew a small portion of what I should have known. I'm cooking and shopping for one now and by the amount of decluttering already done, I can see I'm still learning about what is enough. I'm continuing on with the back garden so there'll be some information about small gardens and what we can grow in small spaces or pots that will help us eat fresh, organic produce in the months ahead.  


I'm glad I'm getting back to writing because not only does it provide the best record of day-to-day life, it helps me think about the beauty to be found in home life and how I'm nurtured and inspired by my home.  ♥️


Photos by Sarndra and Kerry.


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