A few things were certain on every visit to my gramma’s lake cabin each summer. There would be knitted dishcloth patterns in the kitchen, fluffy beach towels stacked in the bathroom, casseroles for dinner, bologna sandwiches for lunch, sunburned shoulders, and crickets chirping in the evening.
There seemed to be an endless supply of these things, and I’ve adopted some of them (no bologna!) in my adult life. My gramma’s and mom’s casserole recipes appear frequently in the meal rotation, we have a section of beach towels in the linen closet, and I love my handmade dishcloths. In fact, I just made a new one this week.
I am an avid knitter, and I always have a sweater or shawl pattern on my needles, but I like to break up these larger projects with small items, and knitted dishcloth patterns are a great option. If I don’t need a new one, my mom does, or I knit them up for wedding or baby gifts. These handknit items are always appreciated, and you’ll love making them, too.
If you’re just learning how to knit, knitted dishcloth patterns are great practice. I use the world-famous Granny’s Dishcloth; here’s the pattern:
Granny’s Dishcloth (Original Designer Unknown)
Yarn: Sugar ‘n Cream by Lily (100% cotton; 95 yards [87 meters]; 1.98 oz [56 g]), color shown # 191178, Sonoma
Needles: Size 7 US (4.5 mm)
Notions: Tapestry needle
Gauge: 18 stitches = 4 inches
Finished Size: 7.25” square
Cast on 4 stitches.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Knit 2, yarn over, knit across row.
Repeat Row 2 until there are 46 stitches on the needle.
Row 3: Knit 1 knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end of row.
Repeat Row 3 until you have 4 stitches on the needle.
Bind off and weave in ends.
The great thing about using this pattern to learn how to knit is that you practice several skills: the knit stitch, the yarn over increase, and the knit two together decrease. All this in a small, super useful dishcloth!
I do have to warn you that these are addictive, and soon you’ll be knitting them for yourself and everyone you know.
More Options—Same Knitted Dishcloth Pattern
This dishcloth pattern is really versatile; turn it into a throw, a baby blanket, or a shawl.
Make a Throw: You can keep increasing (repeating Row 2) until you have 234 stitches to make a 52” throw for your living room. Yarn choices for this would be just about anything! You could choose a soft, worsted-weight merino yarn like Malabrigo Merino or Rios, or a workhorse yarn like Cascade 220 or Lion Brand Wool-Ease.
I’m making these recommendations based on the washcloth gauge, which is 4.5 stitches to 1 inch (18 stitches = 4 inches), but you can really use any size yarn for this pattern. Just keep repeating Row 2 until you get to the width you want, and then start Row 3. Couldn’t be simpler.
Make a Baby Blanket: If you’re looking for the perfect baby blanket pattern, this is it. Choose a washable yarn, such as Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (I love it for baby items), and increase to 135 stitches to make a 30” blanket. Sugar ‘n Cream would work for babies, too. If you want a wool option, Cascade 220 is a good choice, and it comes in lots of colors.
Make a Shawl: For the easiest of shawl patterns, follow the first half of the dishcloth pattern (Rows 1 and 2), and keep knitting until you have the width you want, and then bind off. You can use any yarn that you have on hand. Many knitters have an overabundance of sock yarn, which is perfect for shawls. (If you know how to knit socks, you’ll probably have a ton of sock yarn to choose from!) If you’re using sock yarn—also called fingering yarn—increase to 294 stitches, and then cast off. You’ll end up with a 56-inch-wide shawl. This pattern is based on knitting 5.25 stitches to the inch on size US 2½ needles (3.0 mm).
Choosing Dishcloth Yarn
Cotton yarn is the go-to for knitted dishcloth patterns. There are lots of options in many gauges. If you’ve been knitting for awhile, chances are you have some in your stash already!
I’ve just discovered a bamboo yarn, Universal Bamboo Pop, which is naturally anti-bacterial, and would be perfect for a dishcloth. It knits up into a super-soft fabric, so it would be great for a washcloth or facecloth, too. Knit one of these bamboo versions, pair it with a beautiful soap, and you have a wonderful gift with a handmade touch. I think handmade gifts are the best to give and receive.
If you spin your own yarn, use it for washcloths, too! I’ve knit one out of a non-washable wool; I (gasp) washed it, and it was fine. It shrunk a little bit, but it still works just fine. Give it a try.
Turn Dishcloths into Dollars
Looking for small craft business ideas? Washcloths are so quick to make, you could knit up a bunch and sell them at craft fairs. If you’re a soap maker, why not add washcloths to the mix? I’ve seen them at craft fairs, and they’re always good sellers. People have been using this particular pattern for years and years, and seeing one of Granny’s dishcloths brings a sense of nostalgia to many of us. That’s a pretty great marketing tool!
I hope you’ll try making a washcloth. I know you’ll enjoy using them, and maybe you can start a tradition in your family like I’ve got in mine.
For more information on knitting, check out these books available from the Countryside Network bookstore! The Essential Guide To Color Knitting Techniques, The Knitting Answer Book, Knit Socks!, and One-Skein Wonders for Babies.
P.S. Do you use or knit Granny’s dishcloths? Leave a comment and share your experience with knitted dishcloth patterns!