Knitted dish cloths

I’ve spoken before about the knitted dish cloths I use. As I’m making some for a friend, I thought I would take the time to record the process.

There are many advantages to a knitted dish cloth – if you choose your fibre carefully then they don’t shed any plastic into the water system, they can be washed until they disintegrate (so do away with disposable alternatives), and they’re actually really good at removing stuck-on food. If you have a home compost heap, they can even end their life in there.

The choice of fibre is up to you, but I use a cotton yarn – usualy Rico Creative Cotton, but in this case, I’m employing a vintage offering that I found in my late mother-in-law’s stash.  Cotton is great because you can wash it at 90, iron it, and tumble dry it without many adverse effects. Obviously cotton is a water-heavy crop, though, so it’s definitely worth looking at what else is in your stash in terms of plant fibres. Acrylic yarn will shed micro plastics, wool will shrink in a hot wash and you can’t iron it to disinfect it, so something like hemp, linen or yarn made from old t-shirts might be a good idea.

Normally I would use 4mm needles, but as this yarn is finer, I used 3.25mm ones.

I started by casting on 40 stitches. You can cast on as many as you like, but 40 is quick, makes for easy counting, and is easy to ad-lib patterns with. In this case, I made a simple stocking-stitch square with a garter stitch border, but I often use dish cloths as a way to experiment with stitches I’m curious about (which I will try and post more on below).

In this case, after I’d cast on, I knit every row until row 10. Then I measured the width of the work – this lets me know how long to knit to make the square. I measure the length of the 10 rows, and subtract that from the width – for example, in this case, the work measure 20cm across, and 2cm long.

I subtracted 2cm for the bottom border, and 2cm for the top border from the 20cm I need to knit to make the length the same as the width,  which gives me 16cm. This lets me know how long to contine the following pattern for. That said, as it’s a dishcloth, the measurements aren’t really important – make it as big/small as you like or work until you’ve used up your scraps. Whatever you like, really.

After that, I began the pattern by knitting 5, purling 30, then knitting 5, and knitting the next row. Continuing this up the next 16cm, then returning to garter stitch is what makes the little frame.

In short hand –

CO 40 st.
Rows 1-10  – knit.
Row 11 – k5, p30, k5.
Row 12 – K to end.
Repeat rows 11 & 12 until work measures 18cm.
K last 10 rows.
Cast off.

Instead of cutting the yarn and passing it through the last stitch, I like to use a crochet hook to chain a small lenth of cable to create a hanger. I can then use this to hang the cloth on my tap. If you want to do the same, just chain 15-20 stitches, starting with the last one of your cast off and when your hook is long enough, cut your yarn and pass the tail through. Sew the end into the cloth…

And you’re done!

It’s a really simple, quick project, but as I said earlier, you can alter it in so many ways to make it more interesting.

The pattern for the above cloth, for example, is;

CO 40 st.
Row 1 & 2 – slip first stitch, knit to end.
Row 3 – slip first stitch, (knit 1, slip 1) repeat to end.
Row 4 – slip first stitch, (k, p) repeat to end.
Repeat rows 1-4 until the work measures the desired length (around 20cm), and ending in row 2.
Cast off.

Obviously, you don’t have to knit these squares – you could also crochet a granny square, but I find it eats a lot more yarn than the knitted equivalent and I’m stingy with my fibres.

I hope this has been useful. I would love to see anything you make from the above ramblings – feel free to reply here or on Twitter.

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