Meeting needs by Carol
July 3, 2011, 9:41 am
Filed under: by Carol

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I take a lot of sponge baths at night in the summer to cool off before bed. It saves on the water a shower would consume and really helps get the heat of the day off the body. As a result, I go through a lot of washcloths. I can only seem to get 1-2 uses out of a washcloth before it needs to be washed. Turns out the short stack of washcloths we own isn’t enough and I need a few more or I’m going to be doing laundry too frequently. Most people, myself included, would normally just go to the store and buy some more. I am ever thankful we have the means to do so. But now that we are on this path of greater self-sufficiency and sustainability I am starting to think about things differently.

In permaculture, there is a concept called “stacking functions“. It means essentially that every element of your environment design serves multiple purposes. For example, chickens produce eggs, control insects and their waste is excellent fertilizer. With this as my predominant mindset (obsession?) I think about how I can get more washcloths and serve another purposes. Well it turns out I am learning to knit. I’ve been going steady with crochet for quite some time and have flirted with knitting in the past but it has always seemed unwieldy to me. So as I’m exploring a new-to-me style of knitting called “continental” I come across a video and recipe (some people call these patterns) for a practice washcloth. BINGO!

I have some knitting needles and spare cotton yarn around. No matter that its orange.  And so the knitting began. This isn’t the quickest way to meet needs for sure. I started and restarted and started again that silly little washcloth but eventually I produced a reasonably satisfactory washcloth that is, incidentally, WAY BETTER than a store bought one.  I’m already halfway done with my second one now. So I’m making washcloths I need, practicing the knit and using up spare yarn. That is some beautiful function stacking in practice!


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