Waddya know….our grandmothers had it right all along…
I want to share with you a simple little discovery that has brought a big dose of joy into my everyday life. First some background…
I become an empty-nester this year. Most of my friends have been empty-nesters for a long time already, but I have been raising children for over 36 years. I can’t imagine living without children in my home yet, but the time has come…so I’ve decided I might as well embrace it and make some changes at the same time.
I LOVE the idea of living much more simply. I like useful, practical things, and if something doesn’t have a purpose I’m not the kind to hang onto it. However, in this new chapter of my life, I’m adopting a new mantra to help me surround myself with things that are not only useful, but beautiful. I love this quote by William Morris:
“Keep nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Simplifying to me means I get to let go of lots of things that have been cluttering up my life. I am packing up clothes, shoes, dishes, bedding and so many other things that no longer serve me by being either useful or beautiful and I am taking them to the thrift store where they will happily serve someone else.
Getting rid of things is one thing (yay for me!) but that’s just part of it. I want my remaining ‘stuff’ to be not only useful or beautiful but to be BOTH. Beauty is a language, don’t you think? It communicates peace, calm, okayness and even healing. Don’t you feel a difference when the things you use in your everyday life are pretty to look at, touch, smell and enjoy with all your senses? That’s what I want more of.
My most recent discovery is one that women all over the world and even my own grandmother knew about, but that I hadn’t paid any attention to: handmade washcloths…crocheted or knitted with 100% cotton yarn.
Crocheting is already something I love to do…I’ve been dabbling at it since I was about 10. Having something for my hands to do while I rest is deeply relaxing for me and helps me turn my mind off.
I discovered these sweet little beauties when I was trying to think of a simple, thoughtful handmade gift that wouldn’t take too long to make. When I receive a handmade gift, it means so much to me. So much thought and effort and time and love go into anything handmade, and I am always deeply touched to be on the receiving end. I want to be the kind of person who takes the time to give handmade gifts, even if they’re simple. So I tried making these handmade washcloths to use as gifts and for my own home, and I simply love how they’ve turned out…
They are SO pretty, but this is IMPORTANT….how are they to USE?? For years in my own home, I have been using white cotton wash cloths and kitchen cloths. I chose white in hopes that I would be able to bleach them and keep them clean and bright. But despite my generous use of hot water and bleach, I have been battling stinky, dingy, stained washcloths. And makeup is the WORST, isn’t it?
I have been conducting an experiment and I’m happy to tell you that not only are these washcloths beautiful and soft, they also stay clean and fresh-smelling. Even makeup like mascara rinses right through them! I have been using this yellow washcloth to wash my face at night. I use it to take off all my makeup…mascara, eye-liner and all. When I’m finished, I rub a little soap into it, rinse it and hang it to dry. To my delight, the makeup washes out completely and this little washcloth stays fresh and clean-smelling…no stains…no ucky-ness. Seriously amazing….
I am doing an experiment in the kitchen, too…a side-by-side comparison: my old white dishcloths vs a crocheted cotton one. I treat them exactly the same, washing them with a little dish soap when I’m finished and hanging them to dry. And guess what?! The crocheted cotton dishcloths stay fresh and clean and good as new. None of that icky dishcloth smell that I can’t STAND…just freshness. AND they do their job of cleaning dishes and countertops like a champ.
Want to know how to make them? They are super fast with a little practice. I like using a simple Single Crochet stitch (which is the first stitch you would learn as a beginner). Since they’re so small they take very little time, and the yarn is even inexpensive. I ordered 100% cotton yarn online for some big money…then I saw some at the local Wal-Marts for just $1.50. And one of these little skeins is just about right to make 1 washcloth.
I found a great little youtube tutorial that will teach you to Single Crochet…tutorial HERE. (PS…it’ll go on to show you how to change color…I wouldn’t bother with that. And finishing crochet is easy…you just snip off about 6 inches of yarn and pull it all the way through your last loop to make a knot. Then use a yarn needle to weave it in and hide it.)
Here’s my super-simple pattern:
- I use a size K hook and 1 little skein of 100% cotton yarn (don’t use acrylic…you’ll hate it)
- Chain 30. Turn.
- Single crochet (SC) in each chain for 30 SC. Turn.
- 30 SC again….repeat…
- Keep adding rows of SC for about 30 total rows or until it’s square.
- Tie it off. Using a yarn needle run the ends through the washcloth to hide them.
That’s IT. Super simple and a little handmade luxury to use every day. Simple. Useful. Beautiful. Bingo. (and no more bleach going down the drain). Here’s my latest one in progress…I think my favorite yarn is this unbleached natural cotton…so pretty.
I hope you’ll try this and come with me on a quest for a beautifully simple life. I would love to hear your secrets for this kind of living, too.
So much love,