I have recently come to realize that soap dishes are the exact opposite of coasters. Coasters are best when they are absorbent and hold on to all of the water that gets dripped on them so that they can protect the surface they rest on. Soap dishes are good when they allow all liquids to run straight through them, and are best when they sit above the water as it puddles on the sink counter (allowing airflow and evaporation).
As part of my new soap making endeavor, I have been on the hunt for some cheap, but good looking, soap dishes. I used to work at a little soap shop before my daughter was born, and good soap dishes were the key to our sales (No one wants to buy fancy (pricey!) soap for it to melt away in a week and a half. Plus, if you add a soap dish to a fancy soap it looks like a good (pricey!) gift.). The problem that I had was the price for the soap dishes that met my good-soap-dish criteria, the cheapest I could find was 3 wooden soap dishes for $12. I suppose if I was only planning to give my soap away to my mom and sister that would be a great price, but I need WAY more soap dishes than that. Everyone on my Christmas card list this year is getting soap! (Um, I've got to unload about 50 pounds of the stuff!)
So I looked for DIY soap dishes. Immediately the kids-crafting popsicle stick dish projects were out (um, no thank you), and the mosaic tiles/terracotta pot base dishes were out (not enough drainage for handmade soap, it would sit in the water and melt too fast). Neither my husband or I are handy enough with wood working projects to consider any of the build-your-own dish projects I found, and besides, the cost per dish would be more than $4 (which became my standard I held all the other dishes against: Can I buy it cheaper on Amazon?!). While I did find some gorgeous crochet soap dishes, they were really soap coasters, which (like I said earlier) is the exact opposite of what I was looking for. And the soap saver bags I found were adorable (homemade soap-on-a-rope, yo!) but if I am going to the time/energy/effort to make beautiful soap, I don't want to cover it up with a baggie (although I'm not opposed to it if the soap turns out ugly! Go HERE for an example).
But that left me high and dry (or really, low and soggy!) for good soap dish options. I got to thinking (always dangerous!) about yarn. I didn't want to use any yarn that might be absorbent. But #18 nylon thread would hold its shape even if it got wet, it wouldn't absorb any of the water it came into contact with, and if it got covered in slimy soap film it could be rinsed off and would look as good as new.
But it still needed to drain well. I wanted a pattern with lots of open space for lots of good airflow. Doilies have lots of open spaces, and they're beautiful too! Okay, two of my criteria were already met, but I thought I could even make something better...
**A brief note: I found the most awesome diy soap dish tutorial that used window screen and glass decorator marbles and grommets. It was amazing and it looked like exactly what I wanted, except when I started pricing it out, it didn't meet my Amazon criteria. But I LOVED the idea of the soap being held up above the counter by glass marbles, so it would have LOTS of space for air to flow beneath it. I was going to link the project (you know, instead of this ridiculously long description) but I can't find it again. I have google searched for nearly 40 minutes using every keyword I can think of, and it's just not there. So, mystery tute, I salute you!**
So, armed with the awesome knowledge that glass (flat-backed) decorator marbles make every project better, I set about making a soap doily. It took a few tries (massive crochet fails) to get it perfect, but I am so happy with them! And they're WAY cheaper than Amazon!
$6.49 for 197 yards of #18 nylon cord will make 8 soap doilies
1 bag of decorator marbles at the Dollar Tree will fill 12 doilies
Size F hook - cost nothing, I already had it - and it will make infinity + 1 doilies
Which works out to 89 CENTS per soap dish! Woo!! (and did I mention, they look gorgeous too?!)
approximately 4" across
25 yards of #18 nylon thread (I think the colors from the Artiste line at Hobby Lobby are gorgeous, but the Red Heart cord feels the best to work with, for what it's worth)
Size F crochet hook
3 large flat back decorator marbles
ch 6, sl st to first ch to form a ring
R1: ch 2, 14 dc into the ring, sl st to first dc stitch to close round (14 st)
R2: ch 3 (counts as a dc + a ch 1), (3 dc in next st, ch 1, skip 1 stitch) 6 times, 2 dc in next st, sl st to 2nd ch to close round (28 st)
Note about Round 2 **I don't know the proper way to explain this, but close the round by crocheting into the 2nd of the chain stitches you made when you started the round. I have wasted too much time trying to figure out how to word this so that no one will be confused. This will end the round with 7 clusters of 3 stitches, and will line you up for the next row. Thank you. **
R3: ch 2, 4 dc in ch 1 sp, (5 dc in next ch 1 sp) 6 times, sl st to 2nd ch to close round (35 st)
Fasten off. Weave in ends.
Holding the two doily centers together with wrong sides facing to the center, attach thread to any stitch.
R1: ch 1, 28 sc (making sure to go through the stitches on both doily centers to crochet them together), add the three large decorator marbles to the pouch you've created, 7 sc (to close up the pouch), sl st to first sc to close round (35 st)
R2: ch 1, (5 dc in next st, skip 1 st, sc, skip 1 st) 8 times, 5 dc in next st, skip 1, sc (54 st)
Fasten off. Weave in ends.
Once I got the patten memorized (it's so easy!!) I was able to crank a bunch of these out in about 25 minutes each, so really, there's no excuse to NOT make a bunch of them!!
We've been using a couple at the various sinks around the house and they work great! The soap dries beautifully between uses, which, honestly, is what it's all about.