Knitting 101 – Dishcloths!

Can’t say I had ever given much thought to what my great-grandmother used to wash her dishes, but we can be sure it wasn’t a dishwasher, and it probably wasn’t a sponge either. Enter the knitted dishcloth. The idea of knitting a IMG_1243dishcloth from cotton yarn initially seemed quite odd to me, but I can understand the rationale. Unlike sponges they can be washed, will last a really long time, will save money, and are a great way to get some basic knitting skills before moving on to more ambitious projects. I could remember the basic knit and purl stitches, but needed a reminder about casting on and off, joining a new ball of wool, and weaving in the ends. I also found a great tutorial on how to knit neat edges, so tried this as I got further along. All of these links are listed further on in this post.

I bought some cotton yarn during a recent trip to Goondiwindi and got started on my first dishcloth straight away. Of course I had to start with a more difficult pattern, and did a waffle weave. The pattern called for 68 stitches, but by the time I got to the end I had only 67. Where did that stitch go??!! I have no idea, but it wasn’t a bad first effort. For my second dishcloth I thought I would do the basic pattern which calls for a border then a row of knit alternating with a row of purl. But I got distracted and did 2 rows of the same thereby reversing the pattern. Fortunately this happened at about the half way point, so I have a dishcloth that is half knitted and half purled! This one is in use so it’s looking a little more stretched. (Well, that sounds like a reasonable excuse!) The next 3 pictured above are an improvement – much neater edges but I still have a ways to go.








Here are some useful tutorials.

Casting on: There are different ways of casting on, and easier ways than doing it using just the one needle. But I love the elegant look of this method, and working to master it I almost became best friends with Bronislava, though it was a very one-sided relationship….

Knitting neat edges: http://down—to—

Joining a new ball of yarn:

Casting off:

Weaving in the ends:

There are many, many patterns for dishcloths on the internet so I haven’t included those here. So what do you think? Would you consider giving a simple dishcloth pattern a go?

Please click here to read and leave comments.

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  • Kate Careless says:

    Certainly seems a good way to go. How are they with absorption when wiping benches?

    • Jo says:

      I wondered about that at first too Katie, but it’s actually pretty good. A bit less than a sponge but well and truly good enough to not make you wish you had a sponge!

  • Jennifer Grainger says:

    I love knitted dishcloths. In addition to all the benefits you mentioned above – they do last forever – they give you that wonderful continuity with the past. I wash my dishes and think of grandma’s family dinners – how all the grandkids fought over the washing up. No one liked drying or putting away!
    Anyway I have some yarn I bought at the Loopy Mango in NYC. If I use it to make more dishcloths then every time I wash up I will also be able to think of travel!
    Cheers Jen

    • Jo says:

      So true Jen, these little things do connect us with the past and link us to our female ancestors in a way that I hope honours them. What a great name for a yarn shop. Look forward to seeing your new dishcloths!

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