real and durable and non-disposable



I'm not sure what this is. 

Maybe it's a pot holder. Or a wiping down the bench cloth. Or a trivet. Or a face washer.

I cast on 28 stitches and thought I was knitting a moss stitch square but obviously I'm a rookie because it's rib, not moss. But it feels totally lovely to touch and I've had an epiphany. Use real stuff around the house, particularly the stuff you look at and touch every day. Like cleaning cloths. 

A good friend walked through my kitchen yesterday and picked it up. "Did you knit this?" she asked and when I said yes and that I thought it was a cleaning cloth I believe she snorted a bit and said something along the lines of I cannot believe you knitted a cleaning cloth

She's right. I couldn't believe it either. It's supposed to be moss stitch, dammit. 

And then I thought, so much better to knit something you'll pick up every day, throw through the wash, use and use again than a beanie used a handful of times per winter or a jumper a smallie won't wear because it's too scratchy. Crazy indeed.




Above, the simple joy of the real cloth nappy. Which turned out not to be a passing phase (yep, surprised me too.) I figured out the folding, found someone who makes wonderful nappy covers (more on her shortly!) and just the sight of them on the line, or in the basket or on the cabinet is an inexplicable simple pleasure. 

(And cloth is so easy! I thought it would be a bother! And I paid $20 for 12 terry nappies. Cheap!)


Hankies. They're making a comeback, I hear. 

We've always used them, but I did also get into the habit of buying tissues. I much prefer hankies. They're gentler and more natural on kids noses and they smell like sunshine. 

Sometimes they get ironed. 




Cloth napkins. My Mum has always been big on them. All my life every family member had their own napkin ring which meant you could fold up and save everyone's napkin if it didn't need an immediate wash. When a boyfriend or girlfriend became permanant, Mum would add in a napkin ring for them. It would always be made of wood and have the person's first initial on the inside. I remember finding Adam's new napkin ring in the box the first time. It was before we were married. It made me so happy to see that "A" on a new ring. We don't use napkin rings here (because I don't have any!) but we do use napkins. They feel real. And there's no tossing away. You just wash them and fold them up again. No, no ironing. Can you tell?

So what about you? 

Am I talking rubbish?! 

Can we really live without paper towel?




28 Comments on “real and durable and non-disposable

josephine hart
October 12, 2011 at 3:30 am

yes! brilliant! now 4 weeks into this whole motherhood thing and so glad we went cloth. i swear he is more comfortale in terry than in disposable plastic! well i would be…

Mama Bear
October 12, 2011 at 3:41 am

Hi, I came to visit because I found a link on Melanie’s post for Simple Woman’s Daybook. I have always used cloth napkins but have paper ones for just in case. I found that bandannas work well and the craft store has them much cheaper than napkins. I used cloth diapers and preferred them when I had babies. I’ve got a recipe for clorox wipes and am planning on making my own using cloth handiwipes when my present bought ones are used up.
I don’t see anything wrong with knitting dishcloths..I have a stack of 28 which I crocheted for Christmas presents.
Stop by and visit me.

Thrifty Household
October 12, 2011 at 4:10 am

Liked your post- I do the real hankies & real napkins too (I don’t have the napkin rings- guests select their own napkin from a mixed collection…same with wine glasses & plates & cups…I like variety!)

Mrs Homespun
October 12, 2011 at 5:30 am

So glad I found your blog, I have only been reading for a couple of weeks and it never fails to inspire me or make me smile. This post inspired me! I have napkins, but we rarely use them, and I have always looked longingly at all the knitted dishcloths on other blogs but never gotten around to making any, but that is going to change!

October 12, 2011 at 5:57 am

Found you through Soulemama. Love your blog!

We made the switch to cloth dipes with our second (most the time). If we have another I’m considering cloth wipes. Haven’t made all cloth cleaning cloths, but typically use cloth rags for deep cleaning and washcloths for dishes and light kitchen-counter type cleaning. Still keep paper towels on hand for occasional uses, as napkins, etc but I’m not sure why…convenience and a lack of cloth napkins, I guess. I’ll have to get on that…

I may steal your mom’s idea of a napkin ring for everyone in the family. Lovely tradition!

Jen R
October 12, 2011 at 6:52 am

Indeed you can! I haven’t bought any paper towel for most of this year, I wipe up spills and clean with a whole bunch of old terry nappies that just get thrown in the wash. It makes me feel good not to be buying something that isn’t really necessary. Wish I could knit, love the dishcloths

October 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

Honestly, you iron hankies? Yes, yes I know other people do but Fi, do you?

And if you find awesome napkin rings anyway cheap please tell me, I need some too! Actually I need some napkins/serviettes too… and there’s a birthday coming up… (cheesy grin) hint, hint…

October 12, 2011 at 8:30 am

I feel oddly like I’ve done my job as mum (and possibly wife – oh dear!) when I’ve ironed the hankies and they’re sitting in neat piles. Shameful, I know ;-).
You’re not crazy at all to knit a cleaning cloth. For a while now I’ve been trying to replace bits of everyday things around the house with something either more durable or aesthetically pleasing, because as you said, we use them all the time – not just now and then, surely that’s worth putting time and thought into.

Melanie @ M&M
October 12, 2011 at 8:31 am

Love this! I mix and match constantly, and it drives my daughter totally nuts!

Melanie @ M&M
October 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

Been using cloth napkins for years. Love crocheting my own dishcloths and I use rags (old cloth) for cleaning. I think hankies are the best. I have a ridiculous collection of them.

October 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

Haven’t yet knitted a cloth – but you never know. Good timing on your post as I made some napkins last night, after watching my daughter wipe her sauce covered face on her sleeve – time for table manners. Saw a post some where for modge podged fabric covered cardboard roll for napkin rings – that’s next on my agenda . I think I am on table manners roll now.
I used cloth nappies after trying some my sister gave for a few days having run out of disposables when my daughter was 3 months old – so easy I switched and never looked back plus some very cool covers available.
Doubt there will be much ironing here either !

October 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

We also do without paper towel – except for when it’s needed for cooking, e.g. draining fritters or something.

We got so out of the habit of buying it that once or twice we had to use toilet paper to drain things we were cooking. It looked a bit funny, so now there’s an emergency cooking roll of paper towel buried way back underneath the sink.

Ditto on the napkins over serviettes, and hankies over tissues, but there is no ironing of, well, anything!

October 12, 2011 at 9:40 am

No paper towel here. I use hankies, but still buy tissues. Used cloth nappies on all my kids most of the time.

And love my knitted dishcloths. I will never go back to store bought ones. My next step will be washers for the kids.

October 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

Look for napkin rings for the family. A lovely tradition.
Babies usually potty train earlier in cloth diapers…another advantage!
Use pinking shears to cut up a few receiving blankets for an unlimited amount of baby wipes.

kim at allconsuming
October 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Dude, I used to scoff, SCOFF at people who made their own cloths. Then I started to crochet and then tried a really thick organic cotton thread and now? Now I can never go back to a normal facecloth ever. I know, I’ve come over all prairie on your arse.

October 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Hanging freshly washed nappies on the line in the sunshine is bliss. Watching them flap in the breeze is very satisfying. I totally get the cloth nappy fixation.

October 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Yep, I think of you and I immediately go Laura Ingalls Wilder. Totally. xx

October 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

This is awesome – I have made my own dish cloths for ages now and also give them away as gifts. People look at you a bit strange when they first get it but after using it for a while they are converted. I love napkins too and collect vintage ones and have a cute little collection of napkin rings that I have picked up from op shops. People are always impressed when they come for dinner. Keep at the moss stitch, they are my favorite ones I have made.

October 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I love using all things non-disposible too. Have loved using cloth nappies for my boy. He’s now three and still uses one at night. He only gets a rash when we use the occasional “pull-up”.

I usually don’t throw out old linen and cotton shirts. Cut up they make great napkins (serviettes), face washers and wiping cloths. I have mountains of flanelette face washers (used double and zig-zag around the edges), and big square nappies are great for all sorts of accidents and spills.

One of the best dish-cloths I ever had was one that someone knitted for me in a cotton yarn. I wore it out.

I still haven’t gotten around the hanky thing. My hubby uses them – has one in his pocket at all times, but I’m a bit squeamish.

I also cut up old shirts to make a big quilt for my bed. It isn’t finished, but you can see a bit of it here:
and here:

October 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Oh thank you so much, Mrs Homespun. Am about to cast on a new one, this time it’ll be MOSS! (I hope?!)

October 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I said SOMETIMES. Sometimes the hankies get ironed. (Sometimes I slip them onto the board while Adam is ironing his shirts.) Lets get onto the napkin rings. It was a stellar idea to start with.

October 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Ridiculous collection of hankies. Thank you for this visual image. It made my day.

October 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Angie those shirt fabrics in your quilt are stunning!!! xx

October 13, 2011 at 6:25 am

we’ve been non-disposable for the last 28 years. Never looked back.

October 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm

In the past few years we’ve stopped buying tissues and paper towels too. Relatives think I’m strange but I quite like using hankies and cloth napkins. We use cloth nappies too and I knit dishcloths. Lovely post and it’s nice to know there are others on the same page šŸ™‚

October 13, 2011 at 9:09 pm

It is sometimes suggested (when I’m a bit ragged and weary), that I ‘just’ use disposables, that I ‘just’ purchase soap, that I ‘just’ get a takeaway, that I ‘just’ throw it in the dryer, but for me, it’s things like cloth nappies and homemade soap and real food and things on the line that ‘just’ make me happier in what I do.
When I started cloth nappies I was told I’d last 3 days, but it’s been 3 years and 3 little bottoms. It IS nice to know there are others doing the same!

October 16, 2011 at 6:38 am

We live mostly without paper towels but I always forget about the tissues. Must sew some hankies, thanks for the reminder. šŸ™‚

October 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I have been making baby steps in the non-disposable direction for a while now. We have had cloth napkins, knitted dishcloths, and mostly cloth cleaning rags for a while. However, DH is still in a paper towel habit which we are trying to break. After we move next month, all the older retiring towels (that will be used to pad things during the move) will be cut into squares and made easily accessible in the kitchen. The paper towels will be hidden, to be used only for drastic “I’m not putting THAT in the washing machine” emergencies (ahem, geriatric dog messes etc). I need to ramp up the hankie thing too now, as my 14yo son has raging hayfever this spring. Great ideas, love your blog šŸ™‚


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