Bar soap is often one of the first things people do when transitioning to a lower-waste lifestyle. Swapping out plastic hand-pumps can save you money – a bar of soap generally lasting longer than a bottle – and as many are available in paper, this simple action can save space in the recycling bin too.
That said, there is a significant downside…
You end up with loads of little slivers of soap that are too slippery and small to properly handle. These often end up as a source of frustration and – in our house, certainly – are prone to ending up in the bin, even though they’re still technically capable of doing thier job.
The other night, though, @TinyAcorns posted a photo of a clever little cloth bag which holds all your scraps of soap together and makes then usable again.
As I already had my knitting stuff out from making the dish cloths, I thought I would have a go at replicating this.
Again, as with the dish cloths, I used a vintage cotton from my late mother-in-law’s stash, but if I were to be purchasing something specifically for this project, I might choose something a little… rougher? I feel like there is great potential for the cotton to get slimy over time, whereas something like linen, or even the rougher, heavier jute might just soften. I may experiment in future to see, but for now… cotton it is. Any natural fibre will do, though wool might shrink. synthetics will last longer, but they also shed micro-plastics so that’s a drawback.
Anyway, this is what I came up with. You might want to adjust this pattern to make it wider (add more stitches, in multiples of 3), or longer (do more rows). I think, though, that for cotton, 15cm is definitely long enough – the cloth seems to stretch quite a bit in the water.
Cast on 30 st with 4mm needles.
Rows 1 & 2 – knit.
Row 3 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Row 4 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Repeat these four rows until your fabric measures around 15cm. End on row 2 and cast off.
Sew up the bottom and the side to make a little bag, then either pass some string or a long crocheted chain through a row of holey bits to make a draw string
And that’s it, really.
Pros: This is a super quick, easy project that you can finish in an hour or so. It uses scrap quantities of yarn, so you don’t need to buy anything specific for it. It definitely keeps all the little slithery bits of soap together.
Cons: This particular yarn bleeds colour… which is less good if you’re washing hands. It stretches quite a bit when wet. I’m not sure how cleaning it is going to work, and what it’s going to look like over time.
You can’t really see it in the picture above, but when you squeeze the bag as if to let some of the water out, you get more bubbles. Which isn’t bad, exactly, it just means that you need to scrub, then squeeze, then rinse in that exact order, or get more blue on you than is strictly necessary.
So, would I make this again? Absolutely – like I said, it’s quick and fun and does what I want it to. Have I worked out all the potential faults yet ? Nope. Not by a long way. And that’s ok. We’re all learning what works and what doesn’t. If this doesn’t pan out in the long term, I can always have another go at making a Frankenstein’s Monster soap from the grated remains of all the other soaps. It didn’t end well last time, but that’s not to say it won’t on another occassion…
I’ve posted this project on Ravelry, in case anyone is interested. It’s just a project page with the pattern in my comments. I would love to see yours if you have a go, though. As ever, you can get in touch here, or on Twitter.