[Ad/Gifted – The yarn used in this post was provided by Love Crafts. All thoughts are my own.]
It’s no secret that I love a good homemade gift, both as the recipient and the giver of such gifts. But one thing I haven’t spoken about as much is how important it is to me that gifts are as sustainable as possible. Which is why when I was thinking about gifts for Christmas this year, I immediately thought of crochet washcloths and handmade soap.
The simplicity and versatility of crochet washcloths
Crochet washcloths are the perfect item to work on for pretty much any crafter. They are a quick make for a seasoned crocheter whilst also being easy enough for those learning to crochet. In fact they are ideal for practising different stitches before trying more complex patterns where getting the tension right is important. And the great thing is, there are so many patterns available online, that you’ll never be short of inspiration.
I decided to make a range of different washcloths and face pads, using simple patterns and playing with the colour combinations. The same pattern can look completely different just by mixing up the colours a bit. I’ve done that with two of the washcloths I’m going to share today, which you will see later in this post. But first I want to tell you about the yarn that I chose, and what I thought about it.
Paintbox Cotton DK Yarn
A few years ago I wrote about how much I love working with cotton yarn, sharing what I thought to the different brands I had tried. So when I decided to use cotton yarn for this project, I jumped at the chance to try a brand I’d never used before. I’d heard Paintbox mentioned by various crocheters recently, and when talking to Sarah from Love Crafts about my ideas this was the option she recommended I try too. (Side Note, if you’re not sure which yarn to choose for a project, the team at Love Crafts will be more than happy to advise you).
Cotton yarn is ideal for washcloths, as it is soft but also robust enough to cope with lots of getting wet, washing, and drying. It’s also a natural fibre, so is great for those of us trying to avoid using too many man-made products. I appreciate that there is an environmental cost in the production of cotton, but I still feel it’s a more sustainable option than something like acrylic yarn.
Anyway, one of the great things about Paintbox Yarns is the variety of colours available. Cotton yarns can sometimes lack the range of colours offered in other fibres, so I always do a little happy dance when I find a brand with a nice selection. I chose some pastels, some bold colours, and two shades of grey, to give me a lovely palette to work with.
I’ve listed the colours I chose below, and want to draw attention to the fact that I took the photo above after making 3 washcloths, 10 face pads, and a basket. A little bit of this yarn goes a very long way! It’s also a really soft yarn, doesn’t split at all while working with it, and creates a very flexible end result. I used the Cotton DK range, but if you wanted to create slightly sturdier items you could also opt for the aran weight yarn in the same range.
Top Row: Spearmint Green (430); Lipstick Pink (452); Slate Grey (406); and Ballet Pink (453)
Bottom Row: Granite Grey (407); Buttercup Yellow (423); Peach Orange (455); Blush Pink (454); Daffodil Yellow (422); and Washed Teal (433)
Adding Handmade Soap to make the Perfect Eco-Friendly Gift
As I thought about making washcloths as an eco-friendly gift option for friends and family, I realised that adding handmade soap to them would make them into a little gift set. There are so many handmade soaps available on places like Etsy, and I have no doubt that everyone would be able to find their perfect match on there.
I, personally, was looking for soaps that were as natural as possible and avoided things like palm oil (even sustainable palm oil), and that were ideally something that those of us on a limited budget could still afford. So when I found that The Soap Tree Yorkshire sold soap ends and oddments at a reduced price and to reduce waste I couldn’t believe my luck.
Here is an option to buy soap ends that would otherwise simply be thrown away for not being the right size or shape for sale, and in various quantities to meet your needs. The pack I purchased was 200g and included 4 different soap ends, all for £9.50. They smell absolutely divine, and I know we’ll be buying more for ourselves before long.
I’ve paired up the soaps with the washcloths, as you’ll see below, and cannot wait to give them out at Christmas (but I’m not saying to whom each set is going, because family and friends read my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!)
Bold and Bright Washcloth with Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree, and Rosemary Soap
This washcloth was made by following the Linen Stitch pattern by Look At What I Made and changing the colour every 4 rows, using Buttercup Yellow, Lipstick Pink, and Spearmint Green. The pattern is so versatile in its simplicity that you could create any number of washcloths that all looked completely different whilst using the same pattern. I wanted to mix it up a bit and make my washcloth as bright as possible, so chose to use 3 of the bolder colours I had.
I’m so pleased with the end result, and it feels like something that would brighten any morning. So I’ve paired it with the activated charcoal soap infused with tea tree and rosemary, as those are two refreshing scents that would kick start your day. Plus I think the darkness of the soap complements the brightness of the washcloth beautifully.
Modern Grey and Yellow Washcloth with Peppermint Soap
This washcloth uses a colour combination that I have seen so many times over recent years and which I always love – grey and yellow. It was created using the Ribbed Cloth pattern by Feather and Thread, splitting the pattern into thirds and changing the colour to create bold blocks, using Granite Grey and Buttercup Yellow. Just like with the Linen Stitch pattern, the versatility of this simple pattern gives you limitless options to play with when it comes to colour.
I paired it up with the peppermint soap, because I felt like bold and fresh scent of peppermint goes well with the bold blocks of colour in the washcloth.
Face Pads in a Basket with Pure and Simple Soap
I think this is my favourite combination out of all the items I made. The pads were so quick and easy to make. They fit in the basket adorably. And I just love the combination of pastel colours with the paler grey. For this I used Ballet Pink, Peach Orange, Daffodil Yellow, Blush Pink, Washed Teal, and Slate Grey.
The patterns I used for this were Little Facial Cloths and Hemp Basket both by Créations Chaan. The basket is a little bit flimsy when made with DK cotton yarn, and would probably be better made in aran weight or by using two strands of yarn together. But it still stands up quite nicely, as you can see below, and 10 little pads fit in perfectly.
I initially considered combining this with a handmade face scrub, but when I saw the Pure and Simple soap included in our pack I realised that it would go just as nicely with this little set. There are no harsh ingredients in this soap, so it should be fine for use on delicate skin such as the face.
Playful Pastels Washcloth with Bergamot and Geranium Soap
As I said before, I adore the combination of the pastels in the Painbox Yarns Cotton DK range, so when I found a pattern using Daffodil Yellow, Peach Orange, Blush Pink, and Washed Teal to create a beautiful washcloth inspired by a sunset I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The Sunsets and Washcloths pattern by Divine Debris is actually simpler than it perhaps looks at first glance, and despite being larger than the other washcloths I made was still pretty quick to make. It’s not as square as I would have liked, even after blocking, but that could just be an issue with my tension, and it is still very pretty and completely useable.
I’ve paired it up with the Bergamot and Geranium soap, as the pale purple colour of the soap seemed like a perfect companion to the pale hues of the yarn.
The Possibilities Are Endless
As I said earlier on, I still have a lot of yarn left, meaning that I can make many more washcloths and face pads before I run out. The 9 colours I chose (plus a 10th skein, as I ordered 2 lots of the Ballet Pink) came in at under £20, making Paintbox Yarns an ideal option for creating gifts on a budget too. However there are lots of great options for all budgets and tastes at Love Crafts, as well as patterns and accessories, so do head on over and check them out next time you want to add to your stash. And don’t forget that Ravelry is the ultimate place to go for knitters and crocheters in need of a little inspiration!