As long as it looks like this outside, and it feels as bleak as it does inside, I’m going to be spending a lot more time doing two things: reading books I already know I love, and knitting red cotton dishcloths. So, in case you’re in an equally needy space, I offer you a pattern for an hypnotically easy dishcloth, and a selection of quotations from books that will ease your mind. Quotations first:
” ‘It’s not the animals so much as the birds,’ said Mrs. Bone fiercely. ‘You will hardly believe this, Miss -er- but I was sitting in the window this afternoon and as it was a fine day I had it open at the bottom, when I felt something drop into my lap. And do you know what it was?’ She turned and peered at me intently.
“I said that I had no idea.
” ‘Unpleasantness,’ she said, almost triumphantly so that I was reminded of William Caldicote. Then lowering her voice she explained. ‘From a bird, you see. It had done something when I was actually sitting in my own drawing room.’
” ‘How annoying,’ I said, feeling mesmerized and unable even to laugh. [. . .]
” ‘The Dominion of the Birds,’ she went on. ‘I very much fear it may come to that.’ ”
(Excellent Women, Barbara Pym)
“At that moment Mrs. Grant came round the corner of the house. She had discarded her jet adornments and was again wearing her coral and amber and had a wide sash of what are known as Roman stripes tied round a rather shapeless straw hat.
” ‘Oh, there you are, Victoria,’ she said, advancing upon the party. ‘And Mrs. Brandon, and Mrs. Morland, and che piacere! Sir Edmund, isn’t it.’
” ‘Haven’t seen you since poor Edward died,’ said Sir Edmund, shaking hands.
” ‘I never, never think of him,’ said Mrs. Grant. ‘What is gone is gone. I am afraid I am rather a pagan, but living so much as I do among the gracious rural deities of Calabria, the spirit of Greece beneath the Italian sun, one learns their laughing philosophy. Death comes graciously under that blue sky.’
” ‘Died at Frinton, didn’t he?’ said Sir Edmund.”
(The Brandons, Angela Thirkell.)
“Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy, could never have passed along the streets of Bath, than Anne was sporting with from Camden-place to Westgate-buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way.”
(Persuasion, Jane Austen)
Swedish Block Dishcloth Pattern
1 ball Lion Brand Cotton in the cheerful color of your choice (I like the red best)
Size 5 (3.75 mm) needles, or a size that works for you. It’s not like there’s really a gauge for dishcloths, as long as they’re wide enough and not too tightly knit.
Cast on 38 stitches.
Knit 6 rows of garter stitch (k every row). While knitting Row 6. place a marker after the third st and after the 35th st. Continue to knit these 6 border stitches in garter stitch.
Swedish Block Pattern (from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Barbara Walker)
Row 1: K2, *p 4, k2; repeat from * across.
Row 2: P2, *k 4, p2; repeat from * across.
Row 3, 5, and 7: P2, *k4, p2; repeat from * across.
Rows 4, 6, and 8: K2, *p4, k2; repeat from * across.
Repeat Rows 1-8.
Work in pattern, keeping first and last 3 stitches in garter stitch, till piece measures about 8″ (20 cm) from beginning. Finish with 6 rows of garter stitch.