Vintage dishcloths for today’s crafter

Dishcloths to Crochet

Pat Olski doesn’t think of herself as the author of her latest book for Dover, but rather as the interpreter of this new collection of 25 designs.

“The designs are completely vintage,” explains Pat when describing Dishclothes to Crochet: Fun Designs to Brighten Your Kitchen! They came from old books, old women’s magazines, and old newspapers back in the day when the “woman’s section” included household hints and patterns for all manner of needlework. New in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, these clever creations have been brought back to life for a new generation to create and cherish.

As Pat notes, old patterns are frustrating for new crafters. “Rather than give you a specific kind of yarn,” explains Pat, “something that you could order by name or pick up from your local yarn or craft supply store, the pattern will call for fingering or dk (double knit). Or the patterns might assume that you’re using crochet thread.” And it’s not uncommon for old patterns to be highly unhelpful with the number of stitches to chain (for crochet) or to cast on (for knitting). It’s as if you had to come to the pattern with a lot of experience under your belt.

As she worked on making these old designs more accessible for modern craft enthusiasts, Pat also noted that many of these cute critters had a function other than as simple dishcloths. If it served as a potholder, for example, there might have been two each of the same pattern created, sewn around the edges, and then stuffed to make the finished item thick enough to clutch a hot dish. Some of them are more doily-like. And a few original design elements were left by the wayside. Proper Penguin, for example, originally had flippers that added nothing to functionality.

Pat suggest that beginners might want to start with Lovely Ladybug or Wild Watermelon, which are nice and regular. Even if these great dishcloths look simple, sometimes they are not. “Plucky Pineapple,” explains Pat of her task of old pattern reconstruction, “was a bear.”

She’s most enchanted by Leggy Lobster and Crafty Crab. And if you look closely at them both, you can see why. They are intricate, with the stitches along the lobster’s back illustrating the complicated carapace of the crustacean. It’s embroidery-like like in its depth and complexity. And the crab, with the big claw and the little claw, is charming and delicate.

What Pat wants all of her readers to know how thankful she is to Dover for giving her the opportunity to dedicate this book to her cousin, Kamil Patel. He was one of those special people who was taken from us too soon.

If you are a crochet enthusiast (or a Pat Olski enthusiast: she’s all over Ravelry!) or want to get ready for gift-giving season (no time like the present to get cracking on presents!) this great book will make for fun and satisfying crafty times!