Knitted Hemp Cloths


Sometimes I see women on the Métro knitting and think, "I can do this." I cannot. My grandmother tried teaching me and she had to start and finish every project for me and the in-between part I simply and mechanically mimicked, like a trained monkey. Nevertheless, I needed a plastic-free alternative to microfiber facial cloths and household scrubs. Zero-waste bloggers rave about microfiber, made from nonrenewable, non-biodegradable petrochemicals. You can recycle polypropylene, but it's still plastic. It's not compostable. Besides all that, microfiber is ugly.

Inspired by No Trash Project, I turned to hemp, an oft-misunderstood fiber valued for strength, softness, minimal soil / climatic requirements, and phytoremediative potential. Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire summarizes the rise and fall of hemp production, from sustainable agronomic standby to victim of botanical bowdlerization. Growing up, the police blotter was filled with sordid tales of cannabis busts- memorably, an 85-year-old man who eluded authorities, wanted for cultivating several pounds on his property. Yet hemp is a great choice for knitting and purling; spun from a weedy plant native to Central Asia, it's widely available on Etsy and at knitting cafés throughout Paris. I think I ended up with the wrong stuff- specifically, garden twine- but no big deal. It gets softer with every wash.


To clean any surface- windows, mirrors, stainless steel, sinks, stoves- add a few drops of water and wipe away, no product necessary. This helps reduce the plastic vinegar bottles I recycle monthly. Hemp washcloths scrub better than microfiber, leaving your home shiny and your face make-up free (don't you hate when people post instructions online for "Re-usable make-up removal wipes"? They're just washcloths).

Hemp has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, dries quickly, and smells pleasant, at least in my cats' opinion. Kar goes nuts for it, and Toffel plays with the leftover string every chance he gets. The upside of my abject failure at following this seed-stitch pattern? They hang nicely on towel hooks, ready to use in the morning.

Waste tally:
One ingenious, fully recyclable cardboard mailer, held together by tabs, not plastic glue!

Paris to Go

7 comments:

  1. Hey! New reader here and I love your blog.

    Did you block these? Knit and crocheted stuff tends to curl up and look wonky until it's been blocked. Here's what I mean http://knitting.about.com/od/learntoknit/a/blocking_knits.htm

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    1. Hi! Thank you so much! I didn't block it-I don't know how to knit, in case you couldn't tell. I'll have to read up :) Thanks for the link!

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  2. Update. Ok, so I just tried to make these, but with one big mistake: I used jute, because it was lying about in the house. The whole experience was great because I actually taught myself how to knit (with youtube & chopsticks), but if you ever attempt this, DO USE HEMP and NOT JUTE. Jute has a very pungent smell which does not fade away (apparently it's from the oil on the machinery that is used to make the jute twine). Also it does not dry well at all. Next time I will try it exactly your way...

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    1. Thanks for the update- that is so cool that you did this with chopsticks! I will have to sharpen a pair and try. I borrow needles when I need them but would really like to make some... http://www.maizehutton.com/chopstickknittingneedles.html
      Do you think people could knit socks with them?

      Good to know about jute. I saw these and wanted to try it: http://www.duofiberworks.com/journal/2014/9/25/cotton-loafer-knit-a-long-part-2-jute-soles

      But now I'll consider the smelly, water-retaining properties...

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  3. Unbleached cheesecloth is another option for non-knitters, peut-etre... : ). Most likely, your knitted cloths last longer. Either way, thank you!

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    1. That's a great idea! I love cheesecloth, I want to make a t-shirt out of some :) Thanks for the recommendation!

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