Monday, January 24, 2011

A Salute to the Ballband Dishcloth

The main color is Fiesta, one of my favorites.       

One of my regular, everyday knitting project is the humble dishcloth.  I haven’t devoted blog time and space to dishcloths because it seemed like a knitting cop our and that I should be working on something with a little more technical merit, Right?  (Do knitters need street cred?)  While this isn’t all that I knit, I do have one of these in progress most of the time.  You know, just for when you need to knit on a little something to take the edge off.  The beauty of these things is that I use them every day.  I can’t think of anything else I knit that gets as much use as a dishcloth.  And not just any dishcloth, either.  

My absolute favorite is the ballband dishcloth, created by Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing Co and made famous by the gals from Mason Dixon Knitting in this book.  They are my guilty knitting secret.  Here's why (in convenient list form):  
1.  They are easy.  I've done enough of them to memorize the pattern and work on them while watching TV.  
2.  Snack knitting!  There is no real commitment here.  Each one if finished in a few hours.  Lots of FOs.  
3.  Each one is a study in color.  They can be as bright as you want them to be. In fact, the more colorful, the better.  Lighter ones get dingy looking faster.  
4.  Low cost.  Two balls of yarn at $1.69 per ball makes two dishcloths.  The pattern is included on the ball band.  Most folks have a pair of size 7 needles too.  
5.  They are actually useful.  The construction makes them perfect for the task at hand. Very scrubby.   
6.  Gifts!  I've given several of these away, usually as hostess gifts.  

A faithful dishcloth ready for a trip into the sink.  

I've made a discovery along the way.  First, whenever possible, use the real McCoy--the Peaches and Creme yarn from Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing.  If you buy two balls (in nicely coordinating colors), they will make two complete dishcloths.  I tried doing this with Lily Sugar and Cream, which ran a few yards short on the second dishcloth.  Unfortunately, I might have to deal with this some time soon.  

Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing, Nirvana to a dishcloth knitter.  Photo taken on a detour on my way to the dentist.  

The absolute worst sign of the times is the loss of small, local businesses.  I've said goodbye to two nice yarn stores in the last year.  Now, it seems that Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing Plant is closing.  I stumbled across this article on Ravelry today, which confirmed my suspicions (which were sparked by a 50% off sale on their website). It is particularly sad since they make some of my favorite yarn and they are located right here in North Carolina. 

I wandered in and inquired about the outlet store.  

I took a notion to visit the factory about a year and a half ago.  I'd just bought and read the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book and begun knitting ballband dishcloths like crazy.  The address and the store hours were posted on their website and, hey, I was going to be passing by anyway.  I wandered into the office and asked about the outlet store.  An employee showed me to a room with shelves that had every single color and type of yarn.  You could fill out a little card with what you wanted and they would pull it for you. I made my selections and wandered into the office to check out.    

The room full of yarn.  You could hear factory noise, but tours were not possible due to safety and insurance reasons.  Plenty of yarn, though.  Colors I'd never see before.  
The bargain bin--hours of dishcloth knitting fun.  I did discover that a cone is not a very portable amount of yarn.  Unless you wear it as a hat.  
 About the time I wondered how many cones of double worsted I'd need for a bathmat, I saw this.  

I had a great talk with Flo, who offered me helpful advice, color cards and samples as she rang up my purchases.  I really would have enjoyed spending the entire afternoon if I didn't have an appointment to make with my dentist. I'm glad I had the chance to visit.  

I'm sad that they are closing.  They made great cotton yarn in beautiful colors.  I hope for the best possible outcome for the 81 people employed there.  


C.D. Thomas said...

Will you go there again, before they close? I was foolish enough to start a project with the Article 980 Fiesta double-worsted, and now their online store shows none in stock.

If you see any balls or cones left, would you let me know? I'd pay for it and shipping, through PayPal....

C.D. Thomas said...

(if not, thanks for reading my post....)