Skip to content

Dear Readers,

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

Dear 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?

Yours devotedly,

A Ballband Dishcloth

In the MDK Shop
We got three pinks for your triangle in a DK cotton that's got a nice body to it and that knits up fast.

About The Author

Dishcloth No. 103 is a classic Ballband Dishcloth, made according to the original pattern.

No. 103 spent the years 2006-2020 stuck behind a washing machine with a child’s baseball shirt and a pair of socks, and now works as a countertop stylist.


  • That’s brilliant!!

  • Too funny! Thank you!

  • This has a 10+ chuckle factor.
    I’m sure Tom of Holland ( visible mending guru, Google him) could resuscitate pink triangle!

    • Thank you for the introduction to Tom of Holland. Treasured
      objects beautifully repaired and decorated; so inspiring.

    • Such a delightful tale ❤️

    • Adorable.
      Fitting for the NYer (the NYer of knitting???). All it needs is perhaps a Roz Chast illustration.
      Stay Well! Stay at home!

      • Yes, perfect! Roz Chast!

      • Rox Chast! Yes!

        • In my dreams, Roz Chast!

  • This is too funny! Thanks for the morning laugh with my coffee.

  • Yesterday I drew a face on a banana, named it Hannah, and sent a photo to my coworkers, who started (started? continued more likely) fearing for my sanity. That fear grew when, during the stress of the day, I threatened poor Hannah with the prospect of banana bread. My boss went so far as to offer that his 8-year-old twin girls would be happy to distract me by naming fruits of their own.

    I see I am not the only one in a fragile state, so thank you, Kay.

    I have not, however, completely dismissed the idea of banana bread.

    • Watch out for attachment! I’m hoping for a happier ending than Tom Hanks’ with Wilson. ⚽️

    • Hannah Banana! When I was a kid, my dad called me Janna Banana. As a result, I refused to eat bananas. I was in college before I realized that I love them. Also, I miss my dad calling me Janna Banana…. (Sorry, didn’t mean to derail your story….)

    • Forget the banana bread—-send Hannah to Banana Bob, care of Kate Davies. BB adores bananas, peels and all!

      • Y’all are killing me over here….

    • Don’t throw out the banana bread with the bandana water!

  • SO funny! What an awesome letter writer that Summer of ’06, No 103 dishcloth is!

    • I just love this, it’s great

  • Dishcloth’s story gives us all hope in these strange times.

  • So creative! Thanks for the chuckle.

  • This starts my mundane STAYATHOME day off with a great laugh!! Thanks so much!!

  • Thank you Kay. The story of the times we are in – I just finished cleaning out a spice drawer at 5:00 a.m. before coffee and when I finally got my coffee and did the first thing I do every morning and look at your post I was crying laughing with you. Wonderful story. I love when objects have a true life. Welcome back dear dishrag. Enjoy your time in the kitchen sink.

  • Amazing! Really cleaver, whoever wrote this put her boardom to the task of amusing many a dishcloth knitter. I will get back to banging out a few. My stash runners over. This brightened my day! Pat in Baltimore

  • Very impressive dishcloth. I bet the jersey and the lint were jealous, as they didn’t get to say anything about their incarceration

  • I am just hoping I don’t look like pink triangle when we get out of quarantine! This was perfect!

  • So Cute! Thanks for the lift this morning. I just learned about “ the ball band” in this season of low concentration.

  • I’m laughing so hard tears are spilling into my coffee cup!

  • Brilliant!! This post needs wider exposure. Okay, I think I’ll start with everyone I know.

  • Difficult times yield unexpected gifts.

  • Love this. One of the funniest things I’ve read in lockdown. Thank you!

  • Oh, hell, now I need to join the ballbandwagon, just because this was so funny. I have some leftover Peaches n Cream in the closet.
    Thanks for the morning cheer! (Does the 33-stitch make me look big? Lol)

  • Oh, how I needed this today! Thank you!

  • These are the stories we live for.

  • ☺️❤️

  • I don’t know what the big hullabaloo is all about. The ball bed dishcloth has always spoken to me…

    • ballband.
      (darn that auto correct)

      • No darn the red triangle!

  • needed this story today!

  • I’m totally jumping behind the washer!

  • What a great way to start my day —- with an ode to a dishcloth!! Thank you for the daily lifts!!

  • I’ve always said I would never knit dish rags. But then I said that about gloves (until 2020) and socks (until ca. 2009). Anyway, maybe this bit of deep fluff will get me going.

  • Love love love!! So creative. Thank you. I also want a dishcloth with a bit of intarsia.

  • Oh thanks—- thanks as always for a laugh to start the day. I have a “small chic” ballband dishcloth story, it’s more of a confession. I have 8 of them, recently knit, color shifting and beautiful in their smaller size. I refuse to use them. They’re arrayed on the top of the entertainment center in the bedroom. So I can see them. Pet them.Oogle their magnificent beauty. Like they’re freaking art or something. I really need to put them into useful rotation. It’s a curse.

    • I drape mine over the faucet, but don’t actually use them. But most of my ballband dishcloths go to my mom, who loves them and uses them until they are rags. I’m working on a couple for her now.

    • They are art. No one who has ever received one of my dish cloth has put them to use. They all say they are too pretty. I thought that was nonsense, but I recently made myself 3 and now I don’t want to use them because they are too pretty!

  • Too much Facebook in my life. I just want to put all the Emojis and stickers everywhere all over this. TwoThousandSix I think I even caught your ball and fever and made a few. I remember very distinctly working on one at a Cyclones ballgame in Coney Island. Suddenly it seems like a VeryLongTimeAgo. I’m also working with a top washer from 1990 or so. Had a gorgeous sweet new LG in the city, but the country folks left me with a Maytag that often doesn’t drain the first time, but will always perk up if you ask it again. And since the water is literally going from one side of my yard to the other, well to septic, even my desert-grown soul can’t upgrade.

  • “About the author”. <3

  • Thank you Kay! This is exactly what I needed this morning. My husband and I enjoyed a good laugh 🙂

  • This made me so very happy today! ❤️

  • Love your new guest columnist. Hope to hear more from her/him. How many ballband dischcloths can one knit during never-ending zoom meetings?

  • Most of my dish cloths look like pink triangle (large dogs took them off of counters and played tug of war with them), so I took a week off from my spring “Night Sweater” knitting to replenish my dish cloths. I’ve knitted a stack, but I can’t stop. It’s too rewarding.

    • Right? It hits the exact center of the reward target in my brain.

  • How emboldened of No. 103 to share her story. And with such grace!
    She is living proof that “mature dishrags” are just as good as, or even better than, those young flashy ones.
    Perhaps she can lead a cultural revolution and show society that textile ageism is simply unacceptable.
    Mature textiles have just as much to offer as those Fresh Off The Needles types.

    • You are so right!!! 😀

  • Now I gotta go check on who might be hiding in my own laundry room…….probably got quite a crowd back there….

  • This hit home on so many levels: the “behind the washing machine” collection, the “I’m not giving up my washing machine until it absolutely stops working,” the Derek Jeter obsessive 8-yr old. Who would have thought that 14-yr-old No. 103 would provide the only laugh-out-loud moment I’ve had in days (weeks?) Keep ’em coming and thank you!

    • Well done! I loved everything about this. Thank you for putting such a humorous perspective on the domestic dramas we all experience. Your story helped me appreciate the funny in the 18 year old garbage disposal that sprung a leak last week and flooded part of our kitchen before we knew what was happening.

      • Everything is going great in self-isolation until the plumbing goes haywire. Then what?!

        What was amazing to me was that the water went through the floor/ceiling to the basement in a matter of seconds, before we could get the water turned off.

  • OMG – I so needed this belly laugh today!! Probably should pay homage to the dishcloth and make me a new one since I only have mastered Grandmas favorite lol

  • A countertop stylist! I love it. Not just a dishrag… such a delight to read with my first coffee of the day.

    • About the Author is the icing on the cake!! 😀

  • Thanks for the morning chuckle . I was wondering if you actually used the cute little dish rags, but I see from pink triangle that you do. I just made the set from Log Cabin, and I’m not quite ready to subject them to tomato sauce.

  • Fabulous! Thank you!

  • Loved this! Thanks for the morning humor!

  • oh Pink Triangle!!! I’m thinking you need an urgent go fund me….

    • Don’t give me ideas, I already made an Instagram account for No. 103…’d think I had time on my hands!

  • So funny! Such clever writing! You ALWAYS entertain!

  • Loved the letter. Great way to make me laugh but where the pattern?

    • Yes please?

  • Made me smile. Lovely.

  • He needs to be respectfully, gently ‘used’ for a little while, then tastefully framed along with a copy of his letter and hung in the kitchen where he can forever supervise doings.

    • Oh, yes! Kay, I hope you do this.

  • This belongs up there next to the message from das uberwascher. Thank you for a laugh to start the day ❤️

    • That’s going back a ways! I think that was 2004 or 2005.

  • Oh my gosh. Dishcloth No. 103, you are a riot. Thank you for your hilarious story. I’m feeling inspired to make some oddball Ballbands right this very minute.

  • Marvelous read! Has Hollywood bought up the movie rights yet?

    • It has Pixar written all over it, come to think of it. Dishcloth No. 103 is waiting by the phone….

  • Love!

  • At the risk of being blackballed for life, I must confess that I don’t understand the love affair with these dish cloths. About a year ago I found a copy of Modern Daily Knitting, bought the Sugar & Cream yarn, and knit a few of them. First, who uses cloths to wash dishes any more – I rinse and put in dishwasher. For pans I use scrubbers to clean. After a day or two, despite rinsing after use, they smelled. When washed, they shrunk up unattractively. Then, where to put them on my sink….they’re a bit bulky unlike my sleek, attractive ecloths which fold up nicely and sit by the faucet unobtrusively. When needed, they only use water to clean the counter, refrigerator, etc. What am I missing here? They remind me of something I would have seen in my grandmother’s kitchen in the 50’s. Am I the only outlier here? I do admit they are funny and certainly started off my day with a good laugh!

    • yikkes no ! cotton dishcloth convert. But use once then throw in the machine! No rising and reusing.i also find the thick cotton I’ve been using makes them handy for taking hot things off the stove or out of the oven.

    • Pssst . . . Diane, you are not alone.

      • Different strokes for different folks. For me, the whole point of handknit dishcloths is that they “remind me of something I would have seen in my grandmother’s kitchen in the 50’s.” It’s a good thing (for me)! Same reason I like: Fiesta Ware, old Pyrex, and Orla Kiely prints.

        I use them all the time, they are bright and cheerful and very absorbent (I cannot stand microfiber cloths for some reason, maybe I’m an Old Soul, maybe because they’re plastic) and I don’t give them the chance to get smelly. The smaller size dries very quickly, and I toss one or two of them in the laundry basket every day, depending on how many times I’ve had to clean up after a meal that day.

        To paraphrase Ann’s dad, you can’t be everybody’s dishcloth!

      • Phew, thank you. I loved and laughed at the post and thought there must be something I’m not getting so I’ll give it a shout out and hope someone responds. It’s nice to have company.

        • I sort of agree about cotton dishcloths because my kids seem incapable of wringing things out so they go smelly. I figure they’ll make lovely facecloths though.
          Although I’m not necessarily the right person to have an opinion on what’s good to make right now, since I’ve crocheted two entire bras which don’t fit me or anyone else in the last two weeks lol.

  • This is the funniest thing I’ve read since Franklin Habit’s last post. This is exactly what I needed today!

  • Hilarious! Brings me back to 2006, when a dear friend asked me if I’d ever knit. She was laughing over the MasonDixon book she’d bought and I was intrigued. The first thing I knitted, after years and years of hiatus after my High School foray into knitting an afghan for my Dec Arts class, was a Ball Band Dishcloth. All of this was happening at the same time my first grandchild entered my life. Such memories….baby and Ball Band. Both are older now. Baby is a gorgeous young teen…. Ball Band is……somewhere. No clue. Still knitting and still laughing!!

    • Aw, how wonderful. I nearly wept when I saw the Yankees jersey. Flood of memories.

  • That’s the cutest story I’ve ever read. Oh my gosh, it’s going to make me smile all day today. Thank you…

  • This is an epic, classic from the genius that is mdk! The best thing to wake up to!

  • Thank you for a much-needed laugh to start my day.

  • OMG! Pink Triangle reminds me of John Hurt’s character in “Alien”!

  • Oh, my so delightful!! Misunderstood and now Reflective Pink Triangle definitely needs to share her story!! This is precisely what we needed today! My ‘Squirrel O’ the Day’ pictures taken out my home office window I’m sending to coworkers are starting to get a little repetitive, but may endure for the sheer volume of work available for a celebratory End of Sheltering in Place Squirrel Retrospective.

  • Love it!! Thank you for starting my day off with a chuckle

  • Wonderful! May have to move my dryer. I am putting off sewing a 48 square ( in 49 colors) blanket together.

  • I can’t get over Pink Triangle…intarsia over slipped stitches on a dishcloth. Just how bored were you, Kay?!

    This post was wonderful. I hope Dishcloth #103 becomes a regular commentator, like Franklin. Actually, I hope he talks to Franklin next. 🙂

  • I love this! And it is perfect timing. I’m just now knitting a palate-cleansing dishcloth (after finishing a couple big projects). I’m using the basic ballband pattern but doing a little intarsia to match my mother-in-law’s black and white checked, red bordered Mackenzie Childs bathroom motif. It works!

    • Oh my gosh–Mackenzie Childs–I can just SEE this cloth.

  • I absolutely loved the story.

  • Brilliant, hysterical, creative, but most of all comforting, as I thought I was the only person in the world with so many lost and founds in the dusty, lint-covered spot behind my washer & dryer! Thanks for the laughs!

  • Great story in the life of a dish cloth..

  • Omg, “The phrase “rode hard and put up wet” comes to mind” made me laugh out loud! Thank you for this day brightener.

  • Can’t wait for the movie!

  • Dear Ballband #103 – You think you’ve got it bad? I’m here to tell you, being FINISHED is a state I long for, so quitcher belly achin’ and be grateful. Here I am lounging in That Woman’s project bag with a lousy pattern, being worked up in splitty yarn for a kid who will probably outgrow me before I’m even Done. Just be happy that you have some friends (a whole pair of socks??!! That never happens!). I’m lounging in here with a metal Altoids-tin full of markers, and believe me, we have nothing in common to talk about. I envy you.
    Best wishes, Sweater/Sweatshirt-to-be

    • Excuse me, I think I may be related to you. I just thought I’d I put my profile out I may get a hit. Can you give me more details? Not sure if you from the needle, the style or the pattern side. Hope to hear from you soon, ps send a light so I can read your reply? Hopeful patterned handspun …something.

  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…and you are the funniest of ladies! I love a happy ending ❤️

  • Thanks to the Author… and the MDK publishers … smiling from ear to ear!! XO XO Now must sneak in a little Ball Band Knitting ❤️!!

  • Love this to pieces!!! Thanks Dishcloth No. 103 for the smiles.

  • So, so funny. I may not read another thing all day just so I have this stuck in my brain all day. So much better than most of what I’m reading these days!

  • *goes to today’s post*
    *sees jersey in top pic*
    Oooh…Yankees away jersey…I wonder if it’s Jeter…

    (I may live in Boston but my loyalties are in The Bronx.)

    • Of course it’s Jeter. I still love him with the intensity of that 8-year-old boy. He never let us down.

  • I felt I should read this upstairs, so the Flotsam and Jetsam that live behind my dryer don’t get wind of this
    Rescue by Tongs and WaterLeak.
    I am pleased to report that F and J are blissfully unaware of The Rescue, and continue to knit with errant bits of dryer lint and dust bunnies.

  • So good. ❤️

  • I’ve always wondered what my single socks would say to me! Now I have an idea! Good Job Number 103 living past pink triangle!

  • Could.Not.Be.Funnier.

  • That’s hilarious! Makes me wonder what’s hanging out behind my washer. I am missing a gray sock. Hmmm…..

  • Love this story!

  • Heaven only know what conversations are going on behind my washing machine. I do store my Victoria Strainer next to it, and she has some tales to tell.

  • Loved it. Will never look at a hand knit dishcloth the same.

  • I love this! It is very funny, I can just see it all in my head as I read it.

  • I have a dish towel that wants to meet your dishcloth.

  • My favourite column since, well, ever. Well done, Ballband Dishcloth 103. Well done indeed.

  • Thank you for this much needed laugh!! I suspect one day when our 1990s washer/dryer finally gives out, there will be some interesting mix of household oddities to be rediscovered also!

  • I have read this 3 times today as it’s the only cheery thing I’ve been able to find today. But would you mind asking 103 if she knows where I put the dog’s harness? I mean, who loses a dog harness once you get it off the dog?

  • Bloody brilliant! Kind of makes me wonder where a couple of mine are. .

    • Thank you, MDK and thank to all you clever commenters too.

  • Brilliantly written. I would love to find one of my dishcloths from 2006 behind my toploader. Finally ran out of my Peaches n Creme and Sugar n Creme cotton stash a couple of years ago and not been able to replenish it yet. Most of my surviving cloths now all look a little like Pink Triangle …

  • Dishcloth No 103 just made my day! I woke up early to another dreary, cold, rainy day in quarantine and thought today might be the day that I actually lose my mind. This made me laugh and that was very much needed. On my way up to the sewing/knitting room to dig out some dishcloth cotton yarn and knit up a dishcloth. Thank you!

  • Honest to God I am so busy these days, the morning walking, the phone talking, the banana-bread-making (really, just made another one for my husband’s morning coffee), that I missed this post yesterday, normally a daily ritual, so I am somewhere around the 123rd commenter. But it was so fun when I finally got to it. And now you (it) has finally gotten me to Want to knit one symbolic washcloth. It will also probably not match our kitchen (I don’t have “stainless steel gray”. or “builder’s indeterminate neutral” in my stash, but IF it finally gets done, it will be put to good use for…something. The list is endless – trivet, flower pot coaster, Beanie Baby blanket…don’t get me started:).

  • Hilarious!! You got the voice down perfectly. Worthy of Clara Parkes, which is the highest praise I can bestow.

  • Oh what a wonderful, funny story! I absolutely loved it. Reminds me of the book I bought for my grandchildren. “Foozy, The Sock Monster”. Thank you, Jessie

  • oooohhh I luv this new column – If knits could talk….

  • One of the best things ever written by you!

  • OH – what wonderful affirmation, Kay – thank you! Now I KNOW it’s the parallelogram scarf that hisses like a cat every time I walk by without picking it up….

  • Ballband 103 has quite a way with a story. I should probably see if I too may have a missing dish rag behind the washer.

  • I couldn’t love this more!

  • This was wonderful! Thank you all for being there. I visit MDK almost daily!

  • This is the best! I love it. I spent a month making new dishcloths for my drawer and retired all of those that were too far gone. It was lovely.

  • More than a chuckle… HUGE BELLY LAUGH!!! “The years have not been kind to pink triangle” nearly did me in. Thanks for spark of joy!

  • Absolutely the best! Brilliant writer, that dishrag.

  • Thanks – now I know what I’m knitting today – my first Ballband! Too funny…..

  • I have a bad habit of slicing my ball bands with the knives as I wash dishes. They are all a bit visibly mended and that’s ok.

  • Love this letter! Welcome back, Ballband!

  • What a funny and great read. Loved the article and was in a great need for a laugh today. Thank you.

  • So happy to have found MDK! Thanks for your special report from behind the washer

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping