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DogCatMom 02-13-2014 10:01 PM

So...why dishcloths???
I've known how to knit only since May 2011 (we can't count 2013; it was a total loss for knitting and many other aspects of my life), so almost two whole actual, practicing years (even though I've crocheted since college). I'm always seeing knitters discuss "dishcloths."

They ask...

--what size of dishcloth do you make?
--what yarn do you use? (the answer is often Sugar and Cream, Peaches n Creme, LionBrand Kitchen Cotton, or similar)
--what's your favorite design for a dishcloth?
--what kind of needles do you use?
--and similar practical questions.

My question lies far, far beyond these.

I had never even heard of a dishcloth until entering Knitting Land in mid-2011. I chalked it up to regionalisms--maybe I'd just managed to live in regions of the U.S. where such items weren't popularly used. (And I would've used them, at least as a kid--I washed ALL of our family's dishes from the age of about 7 until I graduated from high school--and there were four kids when I was 7 and five beginning in the 10th grade.) But never a dishcloth. Sponges always, and sponges went into the laundry on a regular cycle along with towels, etc.

Beginning when I was 7, we lived in Cheyenne, Rancho Cordova (California), Tampa (Florida), the Canal Zone, San Antonio, and Tampa again. (In case the overriding dish-washing influence was Mom and not what was cheap at the PX, she was raised in Texas, Louisiana, Sarasota, and Tampa; her mother was raised in Texas only.)

When I moved to Atlanta for college, I lived in a "dorm" situation only for a few months and then with a fellow Atlanta student in an apartment. She and I used...yep...sponges, which went into the laundry on a regular cycle along with the towels.

I eventually moved to the Bay Area, thinking to go to grad school. That (sadly) didn't happen, but I've been here ever since. My women friends with whom I've ever thought to discuss kitchen matters haven't mentioned dishcloths, "washcloths for the dishes," or other similar phrases. These days, people often have automatic dishwashers, but not everything goes into a DW and sometimes the DDW ("dear" dishwasher) isn't working. :mad:

So...why dishcloths? Where dishcloths? From whence dishcloths?



GrumpyGramma 02-13-2014 10:09 PM

Very, very interesting. I may call them dishcloths in polite company but they're really dishrags. Fancy it up all you want but to me a dishrag is a dishrag is a dishrag. I don't use sponges, I have a very strong dislike for them. When I was a kid our dishrags were generally just that, rags. Old towels with holes in them got ripped up for rags and used in the kitchen. My mother didn't use sponges, I really don't know why.

justplaincharlotte 02-13-2014 11:37 PM

Hmmm, interesting DCM. I've never questioned their raison d'Ítre before. We had dish rags like GGs for nasty/regular kitchen jobs, and then we had both kitchen towels with knitted/crocheted towel toppers and knitted/crocheted dishcloths and towels. The former were more for decoration, while the latter were usually for regular use. Both were gifted by friends and family to new brides and lady friends for birthdays and such. I do know that knitted cotton dishcloths do a fine job cleaning mirrors and windows. Beyond that, I can only guess that it's a southern country thing.

mo841 02-14-2014 01:10 AM

That's odd. everyone I know was always raised to use washcloths to pretty much wash everything. We even use them when taking a shower. It never occurred to me that they don't use them in some areas of the country. I could never get used to a sponge. ide use it then have to throw it away I never thought about being able to wash one. this is a very interesting thread.

Jan in CA 02-14-2014 02:02 AM

Hmm... We use a dishcloth for wiping up counters or the table, but a scrubbie for dishes. The scrubbie has both a rough side and a sponge side. I put the scrubbie in the dishwasher 2-3 times a week and change the dishcloth every few days. My preferred yarn is lighter weight than the ones you mentioned. They dry faster so don't get smelly or harbor bacteria as easily. Other than 5 yrs in NorCal as a kid I've always lived in SoCal.

Woofens 02-14-2014 02:30 AM

When I was a kid, we never used sponges, always a "dishrag". My mom still refuses to use sponges. Ours were store bought, but my grandmother's were old towels usually. As an adult, I swore by sponges for washing dishes, but my kids do the dishes now, and they would rather use the ones I make. Unlike most households, we do not have a dishwasher. But we also only use hand knit wash clothes now, too. The kids each have their own, as does the hubby. Most of the kids friends have hand made wash clothes from me too, they love them.

ETA- I grew up in pretty rural Ohio and West Virginia, my grandparents were "country folk".

sakura-panda 02-14-2014 12:19 PM

I grew up in Wisconsin and Michigan and never saw anyone use a sponge to wash dishes. :) I have sponges, but we use them for cleaning out sinks and tubs, not on the dishes. I didn't even know they could be washed with laundry -- I always thought they'd come apart in the wash!

My mom uses a scouring pad (without sponge) on her dishes but when I moved out, I bought a bunch of styles and colors to try out -- including the scouring pads I grew up with -- and I realized I preferred small cloths. The ones I use now were knit by me.

As far as knitting in general, dishcloths are a good size for practicing and trying out knit patterns. I wish I liked the larger sizes, because then I'd be making new dishcloths all the time. :teehee:

I should try gifting some and see what kind of a response I get back; I'm just not sure what everyone else would like. No one ever comments on either my dishcloths or my knitting, so I assume no one wants any. :pout:

justplaincharlotte 02-14-2014 01:54 PM

After reading everyone's replies, I can't help but wonder if their genesis was something like this:

When you first start learning to knit, things don't always work out right. Not wanting to waste anything all those years ago, a resourceful housewife said "Oh well, at least we can wash dishes with it!" Thus was the humble dishcloth born... :wink:

jinxnit55 02-15-2014 05:12 PM

I grew up in and still live in Northern California. My mom always used sponges and scrubbies for washing the dishes. I hated them because they always seemed slimy and stank if they had a bacterial overload. As a kid I hated touching a sponge!
When I moved away from home I got the plastic long handled brushes to use. I didn't really encounter a knitted dishcloth until I started knitting. I made a few and DH (originally from Vermont) said, "What are these for?" I told him, and he looked skeptical, but I notice they are getting used!

I would make more, but knitting with cotton seems tough on my wrists. I'm sure I'll still do a few from time to time, though.

GrumpyGramma 02-15-2014 05:54 PM

This thread takes me back many, many years and reminds me of rhymes we used for choosing who was It in games. We would each put a finger in a circle and the fingers got tapped with the recitation of the rhyme. One of them ended:

O U T spells out you go, you old dirty dishrag, you.

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