Knitting washcloths

2 July 2022
For the past couple of decades I've been knitting dishcloths. I generally knit some for gifts through the year and I make sure I always have eight or nine cloths in my kitchen linens drawer. Knitting is good for the soul. It slows you down, gives you a reason to sit and stay quiet while adding to the products that support you with your housework.

Above are my latest dishcloths. While Hanno was in hospital and the nursing home, I knitted some for Shane, my nephew Danny, Tricia and I'm just now finishing off a set for myself.  I knit a new set for myself every year and when the older cloths are no longer serviceable, they go into the rag bag for general cleaning and when they're worn out, to their final resting place in the compost heap. 


I use organic knitting cotton for my washcloths but any type of knitting cotton would do. Just make sure you DON'T use wool. It will shrink in hot water and take ages to dry. To buy online, try EcoYarns, Spotlight, in the US Peaches and Cream or Laughing Hens in the UK. I think 8 ply is the best weight but if you have lighter weight cotton, use two strands and knit them together.  I did this recently with Japanese 4 ply cotton it was easy to do and it looked really good.

Materials
  1. Either leftover knitting cotton or a ball or skein of cotton yarn.  You'll get about one and a half washcloths from one ball.
  2. Straight knitting needles. This doesn't have to be precise - either 4.00mm, 4.5mm or 5.00mm if you're in Australia, UK sizes - 8, 7 or 6, or US sizes - 6, 7 or 8.  I used 5mm needles for my washcloths.

Knitting Instructions:
Cast on and after three rows you'll increase the length of each row until you reach 50 stitches.
    
    Cast on 4 stitches
    Knit next 2 rows
    Next Row: Knit 2, Yarn Over, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 50 stitches

    Then you'll start to decrease:
    Next Row: Knit 1, Knit 2 together, Yarn Over, Knit 2 together, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 4 stitches left
    Knit 2 rows even
    Cast Off


This is what the first half of your dishcloth will look like. At this point, I start to decrease the length of each row.

If you're an absolute beginner, teach yourself to knit by watching these YouTube videos. It's not difficult. This beginners' dishcloth pattern is an ideal way to learn to knit because you'll be able to produce something while you learn. Expect to make mistakes, we all do when we learn anything new. Mistakes make you stop and think. 

All the stitches you'll need are in the list below:

I use organic cotton. It's soft, very absorbent and they can be used and added to your ordinary washing load. If they're stained, an overnight soak in sodium percarbonate - Napisan, Sard, Disan etc., will easily take care of the stains. They'll last for a couple of years if you use and care for them this way.  They're ideal for washing up by hand, wiping kitchen benches and for more general cleaning such as walls, doors, mirrors and glass.



These are some new skeins and lots of leftover balls of knitting cotton. This is how I use all those little bits of cotton and end up with new washcloths every year. There's no wastage, just repetitive stitches which, like meditation, relieve stress and add to our self-reliance.

Knitting has been part of human life for thousands of years and it's a really useful skill or have. Knitting washcloths may seem like such a simple activity you might wonder why I bother when I could easily go to the supermarket and buy cloths. Knitting is a small step and simple life is full of small steps. Living as I do isn't about large gestures or about complicated ways of doing things. Sometimes it's just sitting quietly and slipping stitches from one needle to another.

Please note:  Google has stopped feedburner which is the software used for email subscriptions.  I'm sorry but I can't add it back.  I'll announce every new post on Instagram. For those not on IG, you'll have to take the time to come in and check.


51 comments

  1. This reminds me that I need to knit a few new dishcloths for my kitchen drawer. I do love using practical, handmade items in my home. Thank you, Rhonda.

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  2. It's nice to see you posting, Rhonda. I offered condolences on Instagram, but wish to repeat them here. I was so sorry to hear of Hanno's passing, and I wish you and your family much comfort as you walk this road of grief.

    This is exactly the same as my basic dish cloth pattern, one of those ones floating around for centuries. I first encountered the pattern with only one knit stitch before the yarn over, but I didn't like that so I tried two stitches and liked that much better! I mostly use size 7 (USA) needles for thicker cloths and size 10s if I want them a bit looser. Most of mine are Sugar 'n Cream or Peaches & Creme yarn, but I also have some lovely organic plant-dyed cotton yarn that I ordered from Ecoyarns based on your recommendation (it has since been discontinued so I mostly save it for baby hats), and some wonderful cotton hemp yarn that knits up into the best dishcloths, although they aren't as inexpensive to make.

    My other go-to pattern is the waffle weave dishcloth I first encountered here on your blog ages ago!

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  3. I remember many moons ago you posted about the waffle stitch dishcloth
    It was the first time I read and used a knitting pattern. I was so proud of myself. I still have it and use it lots. But like you, if I want cloths quickly I do the granny’s favourite washcloth. So easy.

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  4. Maybe I am knitting too losely, because when I knit dishcloths diagonally like your pattern suggests, they always get warped when in use or in the washing machine. So I now knit them on five double-pointed needles, with four times 1 yarnover, knit 2, 1yarnover in every second row (I hope this makes sense) and they keep ther square form nicely.
    Hilde in Germany

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    1. Stick with what works for you, Hilde. We're all different. xx

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  5. I will try to knit these dishcloths , I have a lot of cotton scraps. So far, I have been using tea towels sewn from old sheets or towels. But, thanks to you, maybe I'll change my ways ;-)

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  6. My (very) elderly widowed neighbour knits dishcloths, and always carries a couple in her bag. Whenever she makes a new acquaintance (usually on her seat by the village bus stop) she gives them one. Grace has many friends now, her cloths are legendary!

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    1. That is such a lovely gesture

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    2. I love that!

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  7. I love reading your simple loving posts Rhonda. And blog writing and reading is so much nicer than Instagram. I too knit dishcloths. As you say, slipping stitches from one needle to another is such a lovely way to spend time. Relaxing, creative and practical. Perfect for a winters night with our pumpkin soup by the fire.

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  8. I started knitting these years ago when a friend whose aunt had knit them for her died, and left her without a source. I've knit and given away a lot of colored ones, but for me, it's almost always white Sugar 'n Cream (USA) because I use them hard and wash them in hot water. I'll add you can buy this yarn on big cones, though sometimes hard to find. I've knit some with doubled yarn, but they end up more as potholders or hotpads, since they aren't really flexible enough to be washcloths.

    Stay well, Rhonda.

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  9. Hi Rhonda Jean, thank you very much for the pattern. I started on nld 3.5 with some leftover cotton. I guess U have to make more stitches, but that will become clear as I go along.
    Hugs from The Netherlands
    Monique Elisabeth

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  10. You're inspiring me to take up crocheting again! I need some new pot-holders, and want to learn how to crochet Christmas snowflakes, like my Mom did. Each year, she'd select a new pattern and all of her daughters and granddaughters received one for their Christmas tree. As for Feedburner, know that something is still working, as I received notification of your post via Feeder, the RSS reader that I use. If I quit seeing notifications, I'll double-check. But as of this morning, it was still working.

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    1. Thanks for the info on Feeder, Lori. I'll look into that.

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  11. Such a lovely post. I am the slowest knitter in the world (seriously) but I make these casting on 35 for washcloths for myself, family and gifts. We love them so much. They are my go to when I don’t know what to do…such a calming and meditative knit! Thanks for sharing. Holding you close. ❤️

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  12. Your dishcloths are so lovely and your basket of yarn just makes my heart happy.

    I too make dishcloths. I crochet them, but the effect is the same - it gives me time to slow down and it calms me, especially when the news of the world just seems too much.

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    1. Yes, Stacey, it doesn't matter if they're crocheted or knitted. The aim is for handmade, using what you have and developing life skills. xx

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  13. Your knitting is encouraging me to get back to my crocheting again...been awhile. I am not successful at knitting...but with crochet I have done fine. Funny thing the brain. I like all your ideas mentioned of late as to what you could write about here. I will enjoy whatever you have to share...so many good tips you have shared over the years!! Wishing you all the best as you continue making your way in this new part of life,
    Elizabeth

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  14. I loved reading this - so restful, I used to knit dishcloths, just from un bleached craft cotton but the organic cotton looks softer, I think I'll give it another go. I imagine they would make nice wash cloths too - presented with an organic soap would be a good gift.
    Alison in Wales

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  15. Knitting away down south to keep my hands warm,wearing lots of layers and trying to only turn the heating on when we really have to! Think of you when I'm home and sit down with a morning cuppa,often with a small,fluffy dog on my lap. Sending hugs and best wishes for this next stage of your life.

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  16. I knit washcloths throughout the year,and I always think of you because my go-to pattern is a waffle-weave cloth you shared years ago. I've made so many I have it memorized, so they're very soothing to knit up. They make great gifts with a bar or two of nice soap.

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  17. How kind of you to knit dishcloths for all those people. I use mine every day. my favorite ones are made out of brown organic cotton. A lady in my knitting group gave it to me as baby yarn. It's ideal for dish cloths. I have been cleaning my house like mad and I am exhausted. It looks really nice, though. It sure is a lot of work...

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  18. These dish cloths are the best! I have been making them ever since I first found your pattern on the blog a few eons ago. They are soft, easy to clean and dry overnight, and use up all my left over bits of cotton yarn.

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  19. Ironically I have spent my morning knitting dish cloths myself. I have followed you for years, silently. Prayers for peace and strength. And thank you for writing.

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  20. Rhonda, what a **wonderful** blog post! I've always wanted to knit my own washcloths and now I know where to start. Thank you for that!!!! Holding you close in prayer as you navigate these new waters in your life. ~Andrea xoxo

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  21. Lovely Rhonda! For those who don't knit, you can also cut up old towels and t-shirts and zig zag the edges. I've been using cloths like that for years, no more stinky kitchen sponged!

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  22. I use follow it and it works well for me, I will miss you if you do not find a new site to share your blog. I am not a user of such sites, facebook ruined it for me. Be well always.

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  23. Hi Rhonda,
    I’ve made some cloths before and even bought some cotton ones - they feel lovely but I struggle to use them because they are so “wet”. Even after wringing them out it always leaves the surface so saturated. Is this the norm? Yes I can dry using a dry towel afterwards but it’s kinda annoying. Thank you for continuing to post and thoughts for you as you move forward in this stage of your life.
    Helen

    .

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  24. It is so good to see you back to blogging. It is good of you to share how your life is changing and the adjustments you are making. My family counts on my knitted dishcloths. I also give them as gifts when we travel. Thank you for sharing your life.

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  25. Thanks for the instructions! Off topic but you can tell me the name of the blue and white china pattern of the teacup and saucer in one of the pictures in your post? I love vintage blue and white china so I always try to find out the name of the maker and pattern when I see something pretty. Thank you!

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    1. It's a Spode set, Chris. But it's not vintage. You can buy these in stores now.

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  26. I have been knitting dishcloths for a few years now and I also sell them along with my goats milk soaps at markets. I agree it really slows down the mind.

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  27. Dear Rhonda, Happy that you are coming back after these so sad events. I would like to tell you that I have received an email this morning (Monday morning in France) advising that you have sent a new post on your blog. Seems that Google is working again ? Have a nice day.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know about your email delivery, Catherine. I think it is still delivering for the people who were already on the list but not for any newcomers. 🤔

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  28. I tried to subscribe to your blog and it’s not available to do that.

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  29. I've knitted face clothes, but the first three I knitted with a different coloured crochet borders they looked so pretty I never used them, but tied them with a pretty pink ribbon and displayed with some scented soaps in an open basket on the side in the bathroom. They are still there.. lovely that you're blogging again.

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  30. I had a friend knit me some washcloths years ago. Still using them today. Since then I have started making crocheted organic cotton washcloths myself, giving them to others as gifts. I am currently learning new stitches to make the different looks. I have never been able to master the art of knitting yet but will continue to practice.

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  31. I don't know how to knit but my grandmother did teach me basic crochet. It took some trial and error but I now have a collection too.

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  32. I have been knitting wash clothes for 40+ years, great travel knit , mindless and so enjoyable. So happy to see you writing again. You are in my thoughts often.

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  33. This classic pattern is the only thing I knit with any consistency. They really are fantastic dish/bath cloths. I can't recommend them highly enough.

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  34. This post made me realise that I've been using washcloths I knotted SIX YEARS ago when we moved into our new house. They're still going strong.

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  35. So true Rhonda.🙋🏼‍♀️

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  36. My lovely Mum sent me a set of dishcloths she knitted for my birthday. Such a lovely handmade gift! These new cloths will replace several that I've been using for years.

    Meg

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  37. Thank you for this, your post motivated me to finish a couple of dishcloths I set aside months ago. (I use your same pattern, and love the rainbow colored cotton yarn!) I’m not sure why I quit working on them, they are the best dishcloths ever and the ones I’d made previously were getting pretty worn!
    All the best to you…
    Maura in Colorado

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  38. Have knitted a set of wash cloths for my daughter in law for their new to be born baby. She absolutely loves them and would like a few more. So nice to do this for them and next time I’ll show her how to make them, love this generational teaching of gentle living
    Thank you for encouraging us in this journey.

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  39. I don't know how to knit, but I do crochet and have made dishcloths throughout the years. I love them!

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  40. Just took a chance on seeing you here today. Your posts warm my soul, Rhonda.

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  41. Thank you for this description. I have just finished mine. I will use this pattern again.

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  42. Thank you Rhonda. I really wanted to start knitting dish cloths and here are the tips and instructions!!! Look forward to reading more blogs. Big hugs to you. Helena C.

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  43. I was inspired by you to make dishcloths about 12 years ago and since then I’ve made dozens for myself, friends and family. A couple of op-shoppers in the family keep me supplied with knitting cotton they pick up on their travels. I do the same with knitted slippers, there’s always a bag of different sizes and colours I’ve made and the family choose their own. I got this idea from my aunts home back in the 60’s.

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