Tawashis. It sounds Japanese. And of course, you’re right! Tawashis are a form of scrubbing brush or sponge in Japan, and I have just figured how to make truly sustainable Tawashis out of old socks! “Old socks??“, I hear you say in alarm. Yes, but fear not! It’s all very workable, machine washable and hygienic.

This is my prototype above. We had a gorgeous French helper, Claire, stay with us a couple of years ago, and we shared with her, our penchant for sustainable living. At the beginning of this year, Claire sent us a box of pure magic! In it, she had thoughtfully packed two stunning pre-loved t.shirts from Desigual (now don’t get me started….I LOOOOOVE every darn item this Spanish clothing store brings out!!) which she said I could turn into T.shirt bags, but I decided they had plenty of wear still left in them before I turn them into t.shirt tote bags! She also packed two Tawashis into the care package. Well, until now, I didn’t know the name for these little scrubbers. She said she had made them out of old socks, knowing how I loved upcycling things.

It was love at first sight! I have used my Claire-made scrubbers with Joie d’ Vivre, trying to figure out how she had made them! Eventually I gave up, and I messaged her, asking how to make them and she enlightened me….check online for Tawashis instructions. Okay, now I had the name for these mother-scrubbers, so I did an online search (hallelujah to the Internet), and I’m hooked! I just love to make them, and I am certain you will too. They’re great for washing dishes, and after a few days, chuck them in the washing machine to freshen up! They’re hard wearing, and cheap as….well, cheap as old holey socks really!

When you find one of your favourite pairs of cotton socks has decided to become holier than thou, I mean, when there are holes in the heels (usually the first place to give up the thread that binds them into shape), simply start a collection box of Holy Socks, and when you have amassed a couple or more pairs, turn them into Tawashis, with this easy to follow guide below.

1. Find a piece of wood big enough to mark out a 16cm square, and mark it along the edge at 2cm intervals.

2. Hammer small nails into the 2cm marks, excepting at the corners.

3. Optional; staple 4 pieces of old carpet or felt on the bottom of frame in case of nails protruding through. This will stop them from scratching your table top as you work.

4. Cut the top half of your cotton socks into 2-3cm strips. I use the top part of the sock, not the foot part, for my Tawashis. You need 14 strips in all to make one Tawashi, it could be the same colour or two sets of different colours (x7 each). No need to throw away the foot part, those can be cut into strips and snipped open to make great garden ties (great for tying up toma-toes!).

5. Place the first 7 strips onto the vertical axis nails, as shown above. Turning the strips inside out gives a nice texture.

6. Now it’s a simple matter of weaving the horizontal strips across the vertical nails, over…under….over…..

7. Keep weaving the second set of strips……alternating the over, under pattern.

8. Complete the weaving of the Tawashi square till the frame is full.

9. Now remember that finger knitting you did as a kid? It comes in handy when finishing off the Tawashi. Start at one corner, and pull one loop off of the nail and then pull the next loop through the first. Keep pulling each loop through the previous one, forming a nice looped edge.

10. Once all sides have been looped into the next loop, forming a nice chain-stitch type edge, you will be left with the final loop. Pull it fairly tightly, and this will form the loop with which you can hang your Tawashi to dry, between dish washing chores.

Making your Tawashis is quick, easy and more-ish! I sat down to make my first, and couldn’t stop till I had a series of them piled high! Actually, I had to stop, as I ran out of stocks!! Apparently, you can also make Tawashis out of old long cotton t.shirt sleeves. That will be my next mission. I now have enough multi-coloured sock Tawashis to keep me in dish cloths and general cleaning cloths for the next couple of years, and a few to give away too!

Each Tawashi is unique, colourful, hard-wearing and chunky!

So Sock it To me Baby!!!

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