Radical knitting - dishcloths

12 January 2021
When I made my lifestyle change many years ago, there was a period of about 12 months when I thought about what work needed to be done at home, what ingredients and products had to be bought for our home and what I could make myself. When I had all that information I worked out a plan and a new life was born. That plan in it’s polished form, is what became the Down to Earth blog and book. 


I went from spending a lot on convenience products to being more frugal and mindful about what I could stop buying and make at home. I wanted to start with the items/cleaners/food I used everyday, so I stopped buying Chux and started making cotton dishcloths. That one action saved money, was a sustainable practice and it increased my skill set, in this case the traditional skill of knitting. So within the first 12 months of changing my fast-paced, money-driven life to a much simpler one, I picked up my needles and started knitting cotton dishcloths. I say dishcloths but they can also be baby cloths or washcloths.

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I use 8 ply organic knitting cotton on size 5 needles but I’ve also used two strands of 5 ply cotton on the same needles and it worked well. I always keep the small half or quarter balls left over from other projects so I have the opportunity to use all my knitting cotton for a useful item. Don’t use polyester or wool because they tend to retain smell and cotton is more absorbent and easier to look after. 


These cloths will last for years, even with constant washing. I wash mine every one or two days in the washing machine with homemade laundry liquid and dry them on the washing line. Sometimes you might catch one of your cloths on a knife and it will unravel if you don’t mend it quickly. So try to catch your two yarn ends and knot them or do a quick darned repair. 


You don’t have to be too precious with dishcloths, so this is a good project for beginners. They don’t have to fit, they’re just a square and I knit mine while I watch cricket on TV. I make mistakes sometimes but it’s a dishcloth so I don’t fret about it, I fix my mistake and carry on. 

Here are some links I found to help all the beginners.







To all our beginners, have patience and remember that when you learn how to knit, and this is the first step, you'll be able to make clothing for your family, that will last for many years.  If you get stuck, put a comment in here or IG and one of us knitters will come along and help you start again.    Happy knitting everyone.  ๐Ÿงถ


35 comments

  1. My mom knitted dishcloths in the car and she used the same pattern that you do. She taught me to make my own. My mom passed away five years ago and every time I knit a dishcloth I think of her.

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    1. That's lovely, Debi. We're lucky to have reminders of our mothers. My mum died 28 years ago and not a day has gone by without me thinking of her, usually when I'm doing something she used to do.

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  2. Thank you Rhonda. Happy knitting.

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  3. That's a really lovely idea. I've never knit dishcloths before but have plenty of organic cotton in my stash. I think I may well make a start today and do away with buying scrubby sponges... Heck,our great grandparents didn't have scrubby sponges but managed perfectly well.

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  4. Knitting dishcloths and making my own laundry liquid were the first two things I tried in changing my household and I still remember how empowered I felt. From there, I made the citrus vinegar cleaner and my own bread. All were such a success and I just kept going. You, your blog and your books have certainly been a major influence in my life, Rhonda Jean. I thank you for that. And I miss my mother more than I can say.

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    1. Thank you Diann, these small things really do make you feel empowered. When this life was evolving for me and my friends were shocked at what I was doing, I felt strong and capable of doing anything and everything. I guess I still feel like that now but in shorter spurts.

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  5. Many years ago you posted the waffle dish cloth pattern. I had never learned to read patterns but I gave it a go. I have knitted many of those dishcloths since and they will always be special because of that. Thank you

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    1. Hello Angela. I think I put the waffle pattern in the Down to Earth book. I love that pattern and still use it when I give a gift of washcloths with my homemade soap. I'm really pleased you've been knitting them too. xx

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  6. Thank you for this reminder. When I was at home full-time, I used to do this but now that I’m working outside the home full-time, I let it slip. I’m down to just a few old cloths from home days but plan to make some new ones after reading your post. They are so much better than what you can buy in stores.

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    1. Yes! They are much better than store bought ones. They're a great project to take with you when you go out too. Maybe you can had the pattern on to your workmates. :- )

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    2. What a good idea! Maybe it will start a trend in my community. :)

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  7. Baskets full of yarns and drawers full of dishclots (especially knitted and crocheted) make me happy. And they also remind my mom. I have been trying to keep this rituel at my home.
    Nice to see same souls.
    Happy knitting!

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    1. They make me happy too, rusyena. I'm glad you're knitting along with us. xx

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  8. Thank you Rhonda. Your a good exemplary for this society.

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  9. I fear I couldn't bear to use them.... much too pretty! :-) ~Andrea xoxo

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  10. I love my hand knitted dishcloths I also make and sell them and I have regulars that come back and purchase them for gifts.

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  11. Dear Rhonda ~ I've started the New Year by re-reading your books. What a comfort they are in these trying days! I've a drawerful of dish cloths now, thanks to you :) I do hope you, Hanno and Gracie are well and staying safe from this dreaded virus. Take care, Donna xo

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  12. I too love making dish cloths. I use tunisian crochet to make mine. They are quick and useful and so very satisfying. And I love using them! I crochet in the car, while watching something, while homeschooling. I wonder if anyone has had success with making scourers? I tried using a much rougher hemp type yarn, but it just softened in the water. I just prefer using a scourer to a brush.

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    1. Anna, I have made scourers for a few years. I just knit a rectangle from 2 strands of 8 ply cotton held together on size 4mm needles. Its very tight knitting but they last for years. My husband even asked me to make some black ones for the shed, they really are tough.

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  13. I like those pretty cotton dishcloths! Cotton is so useful for many household chores. And in my climate it's a must for clothing.

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  14. Our property is on a septic system so knitted cotton dishcloths are really important to me, I certainly don’t want little bits of plastic from store bought cloths making their way into my soils!

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  15. Thanks Rhonda for your knitting post as I am interested in knitting the dish cloths. I would like to know where you get your cotton yarn from as I am having difficulty sourcing Australian cotton yarn. Spotlight seems to have only Chinese cotton yarn which I might have to use but would prefer Australian if possible.

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    1. Rosie, I get my yarn from EcoYarns. If you're after Australian cotton try Bendigo Woollen Mills: https://www.bendigowoollenmills.com.au/catalogsearch/result/?q=knitting%20cotton

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  16. Your yarns and cloths are so pretty and functional! I wish I loved knitting, or even liked it! I have taken classes and attempted several times to knit. I just come away frustrated. Isn't it supposed to be calming? ;). I used to do a bit of crocheting as a teen. I will try to find some crochet patterns to try for cloths as they really are economical. Beautiful work! You are inspiring!

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    1. Lori, many ladies crochet their dishcloths. Just search Google for patterns. Happy knitting!

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  17. The first thing I knitted was a dishcloth, when I first learnt to knit at the age of 6 (I’m now 56) I’ve always got some knitting gown the go, but I’m knitting a stack of dishcloths again. I have to say there’s are so many nice colours available now, compared to 50 years ago!

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  18. Yes, Rhonda, your blog and books have helped me with knitting, simple baking soap making... so many, many things. I think I'll look at some of those links and try a new dish cloth pattern. We have moved to a new state here in the US, a new home, so it's an exciting time to start fresh and see how simple I can keep it all. Bless you, dear!

    If anyone here has not been able to buy any of Rhonda's books, I highly recommend them! My copies are dog-eared, highlighted, nearly falling apart from reference and good use. And no, she didn't pay me to say this LOL

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    1. Thanks Sarah. You have a lot to look forward to - a new year ahead in a new location. All the best!

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  19. Hello Rhonda, you have once again inspired me to take some time to make some more dishcloths! It has been a while! We have been busy in the vegetable garden here on our farm, some lovely rain has certainly breathed life into everything. We are just waiting and hoping for heavy dam filling rain, that will bring us a lot of relief. I have been looking forward very much to telling you I have my blog up and running, I have a whole 4 posts! You have been my inspiration, so thank you. I love coming and reading your posts so much.

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    1. Hi Joanna. We've had light rain here too but no earth soaking rain. I hope your dams fill soon. All the best for the year ahead. Please send me you blog address so I can have a look. xx

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  20. My favorite pattern to use is a waffle weave dishcloth you posted many years ago. I make them for us and often give them as gifts with a nice bar of soap at Christmas (I knit them all year). By this time I'v made so many that I have the pattern memorized and can knit it while traveling (when that was something we could do!) or watching a movie or whatever. I think of my grandmother when I knit, as she's the one who taught me how the first time around (I didn't take it up as a hobby until I was in my 30s, but she did teach me the basics as a child).

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  21. I just love the knitted dishcloths! I was gifted a couple and I use them all the time. I'm not a knitter, so I have been on the lookout at my local thrift stores in the hope someone has donated some. Yours are beautiful!

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  23. I knit dishcloths too, and keep about 10 kitchens of friends and family supplied. I have a couple of friends who are avid thrift shoppers, and they keep a look out for cotton yarn for me. All my dishcloths are made with thrift shop yarn - if it’s lighter weight I use two or three strands.

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  24. Hi Rhonda - I started knitting dishcloths after reading your blog at least 10 years ago. I knit 20-30 each year and they are in the kitchens of a dozen or so of my friends and family. One of my family picks up the cotton for me in thrift shops when she sees it, and I combine various weights and colours of yarn to make them. I offer them to friends and family from time to time and they pick the colours and stiches they like. So thank you!

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