DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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20 October 2010

It's dishcloths again

This is another post on dishcloths. If you've had your fill of them, turn away now and come back later in the week. I've had a few emails asking about yarn and needles, so here we go again on one of my favourite topics. :- )


Making your own dishcloths is a great way to learn how to make a jumper or mittens or baby clothes. It's true! If you've never taken up knitting needles before, knitting a dishcloth will help you start and will keep you amused and focused until you've developed the skills of a knitter capable of bigger and better things. A knitted dishcloth is just a square of knitting - it can be all plain, all purl, a combination of both, or any other pattern you want to practise. But all this practise knitting will give you practical useful items for your home. With every finished square, you'll have one more dishcloth. Once you have a stash of dishcloths, you can stop buying your disposable dishcloths and you'll have enough cloths for your kitchen and shower; if you colour code them you'll have enough for all your cleaning tasks. Keep going and you'll be able to give them away as gifts. Along with a bar of homemade soap, they made the perfect small gift.

This is my favourite pattern - the waffle weave. You can find the pattern here on Deb's blog.

I make a light and a heavy dishcloth. I find the light ones are better for cleaning glass, glasses and small items. I use the heavier cloths for general cleaning and washing up. The heavy cloths are made with 8 ply cotton. Cotton dries out quickly, washes well in the washing machine and lasts for years. The lighter cloths are 4 ply cotton, they dry faster than the heavier cloths; I wash them in the washing machine along with the normal washing and, again, they're long lasting. Generally when you knit, you use varying sizes of needles according to the yarn you're using. I use size 6, 7 or 8 needles for 8 ply and 4 ply. When I'm making a 4 ply cloth, I like the loopy spaces between stitches the larger needles give me. I prefer to use metal needles. I find they slide well and grab the stitches better that other needles. But everyone has different preferences. Go with what feels right for you. If you have to buy needles, check out your thrift shops. They often have pairs of knitting needles for 20 cents or so.

The darker colour yarn above is 8 ply, overlaid on 4 ply lighter yarn.

If you're using 8 ply, cast on about 30- 36 stitches. You'll need more for 4ply, so cast on about 40, or 50 - 60 for a larger cloth. Then just choose a stitch or a pattern you like and keep knitting until you have a square. Cast off, weave in your end bits and that's it. There are many, many patterns here if you want something more challenging than plain and purl.

This is the kind of knitting you can take with you when you go out, even as a beginner. You'll probably not be counting stitches or rows and it's easy to pick up and put down if you're busy. The good thing is, you'll be learning a new and valuable skill and producing useful items while practising. If there was a flag for this simple life we all aspire to, I'm sure it would have a dishcloth on it. It's a common, simple, useful piece of home equipment we all recognise and use constantly, and I'm sure there are people knitting them as I type this in all corners of the world.

Happy knitting, friends.

Learn to knit videos on you tube.

36 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, I have been meaning to make some more for a while, just to explore some new knitting and crochet stitches. They are very satisfying to clean with, not least because they are prettier than most boring, skinny commercial cloths.

    Off to make dishcloth bunting to show my allegiance to the cause ;)...

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  2. I really wish I could knit like you Rhonda! I have managed one dishcloth but I really need to practice my technique I tend to knit too tightly together and it becomes really hard work! I must try again! Stacey x

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  3. You should to try knitting a tawashi. They are great for using up bits of old acrylic yarn. And the acrylic is surprisingly good for scrubbing the pots and pans. For anyone that is interested just type in tawashi pattern in your search box and several will pop up. I dont use old acrylic anymore except for these. I hate throwing good bits out, dont you?

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  4. I just keep trying to become a Knitter. But I knit a scarf and it takes me two years! Just can't get into it. However, making a small dishcloth in a fun colour might be a better-sized project for me. Think I'll try it again...

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  5. What a timely post ~ I'm currently working on a new dishcloth ~ and I ordered a book of dishcloth pattern instructions to add variety. Cheers~

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  6. These are the kind of dishcloths I use everyday. I love them, they work better than any dishcloth I have ever purchased. I like the idea of using the square as practice for new knitting patterns.

    -Brenda

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  7. I love to crochet dishcloths. I like to use them in the bath. I make small round facial pads to wash my face. I use 100% cotton yarn. Lots of color choices.

    Have a wonderful day.

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  8. I have a good bit of cotton I need to be knitting these up to washcloths but I get bored of knitting flat for some reason. I do a lot of projects ITR and can speed through so quickly that I've become used to it ;) I do have about 6 or so though and they get used so much for cleaning kid hands and counter tops that they are starting to wear out! I plan on making some homemade soap and washcloths as teacher gifts this Christmas!

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  9. Hello Rhonda,

    Thanks for your encouragement! I needed that. I have lots of whool waiting, have a lot of amitious projects on my mind that also disencourage me a bit... sweaters, poncho's... Instead --- I'll start with some dishcloths and see where that will lead...

    Do you, by any change, have a simple suggestion of how to make a bedspread of left-over material like pyama's, napkins, t-shirts and so on. I need to make 5 bedspreads (1.40 by 2.00 m) and have lots of rags, but am not sure how to put them together. Most of it is cotton. I thought of molton as lining.

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  10. I love these cloths, and though I only have one that I knitted, I have quite a few that I inherited. I use them for cleaning and also as padding between platters or cast iron skillets.

    I am going to follow your advice, though, and get started on knitting more. I even have one of the books that teaches you how to make a variety in different patterns, and they are the perfect little project to have handy at home and away.

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  11. I'm just starting to use dishcloths I bought at the store to replace sponges. My hub does most of the pots and pans, he'd never tried a dishcloth before and while he's grumbling at the change he was surprised at how well the dishcloth worked.

    I'm not a knitter though (I know how, it just doesn't do it for me). I have some twill kitchen towels I'm weaving from 100% cotton crochet yarn, if I have yarn left I might have to re-warp it on and make some dishcloths to match, or use my small triangle loom to whip up a few.

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  12. I hardly knit in the warm months but it is time to start, for me. I have several balls of dishcloth yarn that I think I'll use t try the waffle weave. Thanks!

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  13. I'll answer tomorrow, Clarien. :- ) I'm a bit rushed at the mo.

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  14. Hi Rhonda. Deb at Homespun's newest dishcloth pattern is at http://homespunliving.blogspot.com/2010/06/aunt-may-dishcloth.html

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  15. Knitting gives me tension as i can't keep the tension constant so I've tried to crochet a dishcloth in the past. However, I think the American pattern must use different names for the stitches as mine wasn't working, and I've crocheted successfully before, so I gave up. I've never thought of knitting a dishcloth and as it's small, achievable quickly and any mistakes in my dishcloths don't matter you've inspired me to have another try. Thank you :).

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  16. I use the heavier ones as hot pads and really enjoy leaving one lay flat on my counter for that purpose. My daughter knits and I think they are lovely.

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  17. This is really timely, Rhonda. I just brought home some yarn to make washcloths with the other day..it's bamboo, I guess this is ok? I haven't made any cloths before and was thinking they'd be great as small gifts around Christmas. I really like the texture of your waffle weave cloth - exactly what I had in mind!! Thanks :)

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  18. Thank you so much for doing this Rhonda. I call myself an experienced knitter - as I've made tons of jerseys, cardigans, dolls, toys, etc, but somehow I just seem to have a mental block when it comes to dishcloths - maybe it's just getting used to using cotton - so I'm going to try again. My sewing machine is broken and in for repairs, so it's a good chance to pick up my needles
    Also - just had to tell you that I got my mum and sister-in-law hooked on you. Mum said she had a really enjoyable time this morning reading your blog. I think she liked finding that there are other woman out there in the world like her. :o)
    Hope your day is going well.

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  19. When I learned to crochet, the first thing we were taught was a granny square. Then we branched out a bit and when I got back into it after an absence of several years, small items like dishcloths were the best thing to re-learn with. Stacey mentioned her stitches being too tight - knitting is probably similar to crochet in that it takes practice but hang in there because you'll get it eventually. And you'll have so much enjoyment from it.

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  20. I hsve been knitting dishcloths since your last post about them.... so fun! And mine looks like the picture of yours, so I am pleased. I love all the pictures of your dishcloths!

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  21. Because of your post, I decided to make my own dish cloths, and I'm about halfway done. I've run into a problem though. My hands go numb when I knit. It doesn't happen when I write or type - just when I knit. Do you know why this would happen?

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  22. i might sound silly, but when using the knitted towels as dishcloths for wiping plates and glasses, won't it leave minute hairs of yarn in the glasses? i have never used knitted dish cloths but i am using cotton clothes made from rags.

    I am indeed a great fan of your blog:)

    Lubna

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  23. You've done it again... now I feel like knitting. Maybe I can get some yarn and needles and do it in the evening while watching TV with the BF... better than munching away, methinks. (^v^)

    (Oh, and I suck at knitting! The socks I made once took me about 9 months, I call them my "babies"...)

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  24. I have quite a few sleeveless cotton sweaters that I used to wear with my business suits when I worked. I've tried to sell them at garage sales and I guess they must be out of style, as no one will buy them, even for only a quarter each!
    You just gave me an idea about how I can use them. I can unravel them and use the yarn for dishcloths!
    Thanks for this post, and for the links to the patterns. --Ilene

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  25. I crochet dishcloths and such Rhonda. People who are overwhelmed by knitting (me!) might find crochet a little easier. My mother taught me as a child and I returned to it a few years ago when I returned to washing dishes by hand. I couldn't find a decent cloth so I made my own!

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  26. I got some of your favorite pattern dishcloths as a gift. I use them as dust cloths, and they are GREAT. I love them. :o)

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  27. Such a timely post! I just started a crochet dishcloth yesterday. I am learning a new technique and it is coming along nicely. A dishcloth is the perfect small project. This is one simple living technique that anyone can do. You may not be able to grow your food yet, but you can pick up a pair of needles or a crochet hook and begin to learn to do things for yourself!

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  28. I love knitting dishcloths in the evening while watching, umm, err, listening to the TV. I also knit smaller squares with tulle that has been cut in strips, along with the yarn, to make scrubbies. Just knit the cotton yarn and tulle together and you have a scrubbie. The tulle gives the scrubbie a bit more scrubbing power without scratching your hands.
    Yvette

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  29. i love knitting dishcloths using linen. gorgeous. i shall try the waffle weave pattern with that. i double the yarn (two balls going at once). x

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  30. Yes, you were right, the Childfund Op Shop near work had a whole jar of knitting needles. Unfortunately they were all smaller than 3.75 but I'll keep up the search.

    I love the idea of pre loved needles.

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  31. Dear Rhonda,
    you may find mycomment a bit silly ;>)
    Although knitting is very popular here, homemade dishcloths are totally unusual (if not unknown) here in my little corner of the world (Belgium). We use those commercial sponges,tissues etc... to wash the dishes. I can easily imagine using those knitted dishcloths to wipe the table and kitchen counters but I definitely need to have a try using them for washing the dishes. Sooooo, on to my knitting needles, now !
    I'm 58, recently retired from teaching, and I'am aiming to a much simpler life. (never too late!). Our house is paid, our 4 kids are married, and while taking some time for us 2 now, I think it's the best opportunity to give us a chance of simplifying our way of living, in order to give us + our kids and grandkids a chance to do something constructive for our wellbeing, in its real sense, by producing some of our needs, and become aware of the hidden treasures in ourselves. We can do so many things if we just try, especially in those recession times that are ahead of us...
    Reading your posts daily for more than 2 years, has helped me realize I could do something against all that consumerism - step by step - and heartfully.
    THANKS for that, dear Rhonda !
    So gratefully,
    NADINE

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  32. I know it's not a very big step but at least it is a step in the right direction. I had some 8ply cotton laying around (from over 15 years ago when I was attempting to make things)I only have size 4 needles so I am making it with that anyway to get an idea of how it works - I am going to look at the tawashi like Denise said too as I do have a fair bit of acrylic yarn laying around the place as well. What is the best way to keep these clean and fresh smelling, should they be put in to soack at the end of each day or just through the washing once a week??

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  33. Clarien, I talke dto Tricia about your project. She said, and I agree with her, that you should have your pieces cut at whatever size - rectangles and squares would be the easiest shape, and sew them together just as they come to your hand. Don't worry about patterns or colours, just connect them. This will give you a crazy quilt style. If you can, try to match weights. A trip to the local thrift shop will probably net you a liner or two. Goo luck.

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  34. katrina, you're doing the right thing - use what you've already got. I place my wet cloths over the side of my washing basket until I do a load of washing. I just put mine through the normal wash. Every so often, I soak them in oxybleach. They're easy to keep clean.

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  35. Rhonda, as they say great minds think alike. Just this last week I was inspired to make a new dishcloth, I didn't want something thick like my last ones, knitted and crocheted in 8 ply. I bought Bella Baby 'Evelyn' cotton from Spotlight and knitted one up on 5mm needles, just using stripes of stocking and garter stitches. It's so light and soft, brilliant for using on glassware as I had intended. I bought 3 balls and will end with 4 or 5 cloths for the $6 layout.

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  36. And I just used my first one today!!! Love the feel of it, cleans well, will just need to train the kids that when they wipe something up they need to rinse it properly (Or I will staple them to the kitchen wall until they learn properly - only joking I will just bury their noses in the smell of a nasty unclean dishcloth) Can't wait to start on my next one, the dishes ones will be all in this one colour of a khaki green as that is the cotton I happen to have

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