It was bound to happen, or maybe it wasn’t, but whatever: Kay has received a letter from one of the hundreds of Ballband Dishcloths she has made over the years. It seemed like kind of an open letter, so we are taking the liberty of publishing it in its entirety.
—Ann and Kay
I’ve been waiting. I knew this day would come. When you knitted me, back in 2006 or so, I was just one in series of mad dishrags that was getting more eccentric (eccentricker? I am a dishcloth, not a copy editor) by the day.
You started out real basic, just slipping those stitches, alternating one color as the background and a second color as the bricks. Then somewhere in late summer—I’m remembering high-pitched little voices and sandy grilled cheese sandwiches—you changed. I think you were down to the dregs of some of your colors of dishcloth cotton, and you went kind of nuts on us.
Those of us in the Summer of ’06 dishcloth class wore our oddities as a badge of honor: the little blasts of intarsia blocks in the middle of the otherwise pedestrian rows of bricks in that classic slipstitch pattern, the background colors that just up and changed in the middle of the row. We kind of dug it. We were the Breakfast Club of dishcloths.
One thing was for sure: we didn’t match a goshdarn thing in anybody’s kitchen. The kitchen had to match US, you get me?
Some of us got a little full of ourselves. One dishcloth was putting on airs about Albers, although truth be told I can’t remember if it was Josef or Anni. (I am a dishcloth, not an art historian.)
And then there was Pink Triangle. Pink Triangle was insufferable. Just because you have a hot pink intarsia triangle cutting across several rows of your bricks including the background color doesn’t mean you’re special. Have a little humility, it’s an attractive trait in a dishcloth.
At some point, I think it was getting to be close to Labor Day, I was over it. The high-pitched shriekers were freestyling with the ketchup, as I recall, and I’d been through one wash cycle too many. Counter fatigue, a constant state of dampness, and the washing of children’s faces (ew!) got to me.
So: I just walked away. I got the heck out of Dodge. I had every intention of coming back soon, maybe at a time when you’d appreciate me a little more.
It may have been a cliché, but I went behind the washing machine. It was nice there. I thought you’d miss me—the work of your hands—and you’d come for me.
Soon I was joined by a matched pair of gym socks, which seemed kind of contrary to Socks 101, but OK.
It was a big surprise when a genuine, albeit child-sized, New York Yankees “away” jersey, number 2 appliquéd on the back, slumped back there with me and the socks and the dryer lint. (OMG so much dryer lint!) One would think that a reasonably diligent mother of an eight-year-old boy would go looking for such a thing, but no. Baseball Shirt was with me for the duration. I’ll tell you what, I know a heckuva lot about “Derek Jeter.”
I knew we’d get out someday. We kept hearing about front loaders and high efficiency machines and wondering if you were ever going to get that memo, remove your circa 1990 toploader washing machine to make way for a new one, and voila: there we’d be, glaring at you with our nonexistent hands on our nonexistent hips. Once, if you can believe it, we heard you going on about how the best thing you could do for the earth was not send a washing machine to the scrap heap if it still worked. I’ve thought about that a lot, but then I didn’t have a lot of other things to think about LIVING BEHIND A WASHING MACHINE.
Last Monday night was nothing special. Shirt, Socks, and me were minding our business as per usual, stiff with laminated dirt but jauntily be-fluffed by dryer lint. We heard you muttering about a placemat, we saw you grab the spray bottle of stain remover from the shelf above the machine, and then BOOM.
You drop bottle, bottle hits hose, hose disconnects from washing machine, water floods into basement, hitting a smoke detector and causing every other smoke detector in the house to scream in unison . . .
IT WAS OUR MOMENT. It was happening.
First, after a bit of shouting—proud of you for not shouting more, actually—things got quiet. Then things got dry, as fans blew the ancient dryer lint around. Somebody plugged in a vacuum cleaner, and a pair of kitchen tongs reached down and grabbed us, dust clumps and all.
Here I am today, freshly washed for the first time in 14 years, blinking in the springy sunshine of 2020, looking every bit as respectable as I did in 2006.
I’m not proud of this, but I was dying to see Pink Triangle.
The years have not been kind to Pink Triangle.
The phrase “rode hard and put up wet” comes to mind. You might want to retire it, or Visible Mend it or something. Bless it, but it’s time.
Glad to be back, and good to see all the cute new dishrags in the drawer with me. But hey: do these 33-stitch dishcloths make my rows look big?
A Ballband Dishcloth