Second daughter had reason to visit South Africa recently so my delightful birthday package contained several items from that trip. Included was the hand knitted cream square above. “I remembered your knitted dishcloths,” she said.
Ah. My poverty measure. “You don’t know you are poor until you have tried knitting your own dishcloths,” I joke these days but it is true. In what I call our poverty days, money was very tight indeed. Unable to justify buying a new dishcloth and lacking enthusiasm for recycling old rags, I set about knitting my own from cotton string in the traditional style of dishcloths prior to the Wettex sponges now favoured. It wasn’t a great success. The knitting was fine. The problem lay in my cotton string which lacked the absorbency of the commercially produced cloths and it didn’t last very long before wearing through.
The new South African face cloth looks as if it may be made to last – potential, even, as a family heirloom. It is not large, as can be seen by the comparator towelling facecloth. But it is dense. So much so that I think it may be more suited to exfoliation of tougher parts of the body rather than washing one’s face. It too is hand knitted, part of an indigenous initiative to support individuals in smaller communities. While I would like to think that one could knit one’s way out of poverty, I am not sure how realistic that is with face cloths. But there is something about this simple object that I find gently poignant.