Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Prosaic Dishcloth

The sophistication of the form of the word belies its meaning: prosaic--a three syllable word meaning ordinary, everyday, commonplace, run-of-the-mill.  The etymology reveals prosaic comes from the Latin prosa meaning prose or the opposite of poetry.

Prosaic is how I categorize my knitting of late.  While I knit dishcloths from time to time (great car knitting!), about once a year, I come under a spell of dishcloth knitting, picking up ball after ball of the simplest cotton yarn and fashioning a pile of domestic tools, most likely destined as hostess gifts or stocking stuffers. 

I knit a couple from this durable, classic ballband pattern, titled thus because the pattern traditionally was found printed inside the band wrapped to secure the ball of yarn.

And speaking of classic patterns, there is nothing more classic than this grandmother's favorite pattern, the pattern I made over and over and over again when I first started knitting.  I think it still good practice for new, practicing knitters.

Less well know patterns but two more favorites are this pattern, an old one from the Thrifty Knitter which is a modified version of the ballband pattern above

and this one, a Waffle Knit dishcloth from Homespun Living where there are patterns other great dishcloths too.

I am not certain what fuels my urge to immerse myself in making these little squares for the kitchen sink.  Maybe because they are so quick to knit, such easy gratification.  Maybe because they are light on the hands and in the lap, or maybe it is because every so often I like to revisit the roots of my knitting life. I have many knitter friends who get their kicks from working through elaborate sweaters and complicated shawls filled with cables and lacework patterns.  I, on the other hand, always gravitate toward basic lines and simple variations of knit and purl with maybe a few tucks of interest here and there.  I wonder sometimes if that means I am simply a prosaic knitter, basically mundane or humdrum, lacking imagination...lacking poetry.  Then I think about my favorite poets who look deeply into the ordinary to find the extraordinary.  Jane Kenyon wrote a simple poem about a clothespin, a meditation where she suggests that pinning clean sheets on the line with a "gray-brown wooden clothes pin" is better than moaning about your life.  Maybe that is what I knit dishcloths, my own simple retreat from the moans of life.  And perhaps that is actually more poetic than it may appear.

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