Create What You Wish Existed, II


We needed new hand towels in the upstairs bathroom. My supply has been dwindling year after year — which had to be expected — some of the towels were over 30 years old!

Story: My grandfather reconnected with his relatives that lived in Italy in the mid -1980s. We had a few cracky international calls where we could hardly understand each other, then we settled on letters to communicate. My grandfather’s friend’s Italian was still good enough to translate the letters for us, and my Italian relatives had an English speaking neighbor.

After a few letters back and forth, a package arrived. It was a gift from our Italian relatives, and was filled with dried porcini mushrooms, and . . . towels! We found out that you soak the mushrooms  then use them and their flavorful soaking water to make the most divine chicken and pasta dishes from my grandmother’s niece, but we couldn’t figure out why they sent us towels! We graciously accepted them and started using them as we put on our thinking caps to devise an America to Italy care package. We didn’t worry too much more about it — except when the porcini mushrooms ran out! We were addicted by then and my grandfather had to ask his friends about where to get more.

Fast forward 10, 20, 30 years. NOW the gift of towels makes sense. Our Italian family lived in Milan, then home of some of the finest textile mills in the world. They gave us a regional specialty!  The fact that I inherited these 20 year old towels from my grandmother then used them another 10 years speaks to their amazing quality. They may have been a dinosaur — I don’t even know if Milan produces towels any more! I kind of don’t want to know…

I have bought towels throughout the years and they seem to last 10 years, tops. There were some towels we bought, good ones, when we first moved here seven years ago, and half of them have frayed, torn in two, laddered like stockings (!) and otherwise generally fell apart. Now that I’m actively, consciously trying to seek out well made and lasting items,  I was really confused about where to get new towels. Then I got an idea! I make knitted kitchen hand towels, and some of them are 6 or more years old and are  like new. Why don’t I knit some?

So I knitted some.


I now have five new hand towels for the bathroom in shades of blue. I used the tried and true, very loved pattern I use for my kitchen towels — which also double as napkins, little towels to rest Woody’s water dish on, the towels I rest my tea things on at work, the towels I fold in half and put my dish soap and vinegar on by the sink, etc. etc.  etc.  In short, for my uses, it’s the world’s most perfect hand towel pattern and I love it so!

Traci Knits – Basket Rib Hand Towel

I do use the Knit Picks cotton linen blend yarn she uses too — I find the blend makes for very strong towels that have a beautiful sheen and hand. They get softer and more absorbent as you use them, so be prepared for a little extra patting until you break them in. I had the yarn in my stash, so this was a zero coupon endeavor.

This doesn’t help me with regular bath towels, though. A large knitted bath towel when wet would be a heavy thing I suppose. If anyone knows of a source for high quality organic bath towels that could possibly last another 30 years, I’m all ears!


  1. I love the tale of quality. I also love your matter of factness and just getting on an making what you need. It is truly refreshing. I think our wartime peers would have been impressed too!

  2. These are beautiful. I love the colors. I recently knitted some dish cloths for the kitchen. In the old days (2010), I would have mindlessly bought sponges but I’m trying to curb my consumption of stuff and I have some fine cotton yarn, so I used that. Now I’ll have to get around to knitting some towels. Thank you for the idea.

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