Homesteading – Prosaic Knitting

snowy afternoon activity

I’m not a skillful knitter, and I envy those who are, like my friend Paula. Or my older sister. I don’t know yet how to knit in the round – thanks, Elin, for the link, but I still haven’t tried it. My knitting is more prosaic, that is, merely useful. I can turn out scarves and my own yurt-like hat, little bags, and such, but patterns and shaping are too much of a struggle yet.

Here I am, knitting a cloth cover for my floor sweeper – the one that usually takes disposable sheets. I don’t like throwing things away, and I really don’t like that the company now makes the disposable sheets with that horrid Febreeze fragrance. So I saw a kit for knitting these, and since it is just a basic rectangle, cuffed at the ends, I can do this. It uses up ends of acrylic yarn, too, or you could use cotton. I wouldn’t recommend wool, since these need to go in the washer with the kitchen linens. I’m thinking of knitting them in a smaller gauge with cotton yarn to use for scrubbing the floor wet.

I’m going to knit some square washcloths, too, both for the kitchen and for the bath. I have an onion bag to crochet into dish and bath scrubbers. And I have a few plastic store bags to cut up, knot into yarn, and turn into shopping bags and such. They can be crocheted or knit. I’m wondering if these would make good produce washing bags if knit loosely enough. If our garden does well, I expect I will want to wash lettuce and greens outside, and a drip-through bag that can be hung up, sprayed with the hose, and left to drain would be useful.

Has anyone tried knitting or crocheting with rags to make rugs? I have lots of scrap fabric, and I can put a warp on the rigid heddle loom, but it isn’t an easy to carry project. Any other ideas?


16 thoughts on “Homesteading – Prosaic Knitting

  1. I have made a crochet rug from strips of stretchy fabric and two crochet bath mats from plastic bags. The strech fabric one was a bit of hazzle. It was very heavy to have on your lap when it was almost finished and mine was just a small one, a round area rug. It is also quite heavy to get the crochet needle to move at all. It is not at all like crocheting with yarn but if you have tried with plastic bags you know what that is like and fabric is worse. The end result was nice though but I have given it away to good will now because I had too many rugs.

    The cover for the sweeper was a smart idea, I might make one of those for me although mine is not exactly the model you describe but it would be easy to adapt it to the one I have.

  2. What about hooking a rug? Easier than knitting or crochet. You would need to find some burlap for backing. Or you could try a braided rug depending on the type of scraps you have. I’m sure you can find lots of tips and instructions online.

  3. I’m a very good knitter. Anyone can knit well. Anyone can knit in a circle, or lace, or aran sweaters. I have a friend who picked up knitting, and within weeks she was whipping out a cabled beret. It’s just a matter of having time and an unusually high tolerance for frustration. can speed the process.

    Excellent knitting _is_ useful. There is a fascinating book you would enjoy, called Knitting in the Old Way. It goes through the various techniques and how each is suited to its country of origin. Stranded colourwork (Norway, Scotland) created an extra layer or so of warm, loose wool to keep out the cold. Cabled arans out of natural wool are both warm and very near waterproof.

    Superwash wool will survive in the wash, depending on how roughly you wash your kitchen linens. Given that you do them by hand, I think any fabric would be possible for you.

    • I hang my head in shame. I should knit better; my mother and my grandmothers were very talented. The high tolerance for frustration might be the key, though. I’ve got weeks yet until spring and outdoor work, so I have no excuse for not sitting here and learning properly. I have a closet full of wool to be carded and spun – an aran would be the perfect end for it.

      I’ve seen Knitting in the Old Way. Thanks for reminding me of it, and I will look for a copy.

      • The high tolerance for frustration was a problem for me too at a time. For me screaming helps. When I have made an unnecessary mistake that will take a lot of time to recover from while knitting I allow myself to scream as loudly as I wish a couple of times and then decide that my frustration has to be over. It is really silly but for me it works…

      • Pick a simple cardigan pattern with a basic stocking stitch, you will be surprised how it all comes together. As with all things in life, the more you do the easier it becomes.

  4. I consider my knitting to be rather prosaic. I knit dish and wash cloths, hand towels and my socks (though my socks are sometimes very colorful). I prefer to knit in the round with a 5 needle set when I can. You still only have two needles working at once. The others just hang around and gossip until you get to them.

    I’m currently also working on a shoulder shawl. Having just a bit of extra warmth over the back of the neck keeps you warmer that you would think. I had it almost ready to put the edging on it and found an obvious mistake that I couldn’t live with and unraveled it to about the half-way mark. It is lace weight yarn. It will be nice to wear to church with the dress from the fabric my daughter bought for me. It was a rather odd green with maroon flowers on it. After we pre-washed the fabric the colors toned down and I really like it. The maroon of the shoulder shawl I’m working on will match it nicely.

    I don’t make fancy things, but is has been through the art of knitting that Heavenly Father showed me that I was artistic. It was quite a revelation to me as I thought that only those like my granddaughter who is a gifted artist who draws we *real* artists.

    Now I’ve come to understand that there are many types of art. Many of them are very homely and homemaking arts, but when you enter the home of such an artist you can feel the love, comfort and coziness of her home.

  5. Get some ring markers for your knitting. They come in different sizes (in the package) and they slip over your knitting needle. I use them to mark the beginning (in circular knitting), or to mark increases, or even to mark which side is ‘right’. I find them much better than wool or safety pins.

    When I saw your post about knitting the sontag pattern popped in my head as a great idea for you. I have the pattern from Piecework but the link I gave you is a simpler (and thicker) version. There are a few other examples over at

  6. I feel the same kind of frustration, when I need to do a simple sewing job, and sit there with the needle in one hand and the article of clothing in the other, and don’t have a clue how to proceed. I’ve been a bachelor my whole life, and I can cook and clean for myself, but I never learned how to sew a stitch. Even my father knows how to do basic repairs to clothing, and I feel like such a doofus sometimes. 🙂

    • Youtube, of course! I rarely watch anything on youtube myself; my husband finds it a bit disturbing when the audio is playing, and will suddenly say, “What is that? Who are you talking to? What are you watching?” even if he isn’t in the room.

  7. Rug hooking is not hard but the prep can be time consuming. It does need a frame, but the frame can be as simple as 1″x2″ held at the corners by clamps. The big challenge is (if you decide to go with wool strips instead of yarn) finding clothing made of wool fabric at second hand shops, overdying them (if you need a certain colour), cutting them into even strips, and making sure they are sorted into containers of ‘like’ colours/shades.

    • Our church has a couple of big rummage sales and there is always lots of clothing left over – it’s easy enough to offer a lot bid on anything wool. The women used to rip up old t-shirts and cotton items that didn’t sell for local machine shops to buy as bags of rags. I rather enjoy the prep work as well as the creation. The question is will my husband tolerate the ensuing temporary disaster zone.

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