Grandma’s favourite dishcloth
Knitting for your home is a good way to complete a small project, and it’s very rewarding to see your knitting in good use! Amy’s dishcloth project is a brilliant first project, or something to fit in alongside other knits!
For a knitter’s first project, most people make either a scarf or a dishcloth. If your first project was a dishcloth, it may have been this one or something similar. Grandma’s favourite dishcloth is pleasing for both the new and the seasoned knitter, mostly because it is the perfect instant-gratification project. When I attend a Knitting Night at a local yarn shop, there is no better project to both keep knitting and follow multiple conversations at the same time.
Oh, and you have a handy little gift when you cast off those last four stitches.
Ready to make the most basic, timeless, and practical knitted item in the history of the universe? Grab your ball of worsted-weight cotton, such as Classic Elite Sprout or Rowan Handknit Cotton, and a pair of compatibly-sized straight knitting needles. I used a ball of generic kitchen cotton and a pair of 5.0mm/US8 straight bamboo knitting needles for mine.
Cast on four stitches, using any method you like. I prefer the knitted cast-0n.
Then, knit row 1: K2, yo (or “yarnover”), and k to end. See how the yarn just under the left needle looks like it is not attached to anything? Well, it is not. That is the yarnover.
Repeat this row until you have half of your dishcloth completed. How do you know what size dishcloth you have? Well, the easiest way to tell is to spread out your stitches on either one or both needles, place your needle on the diagonal so the sides are at a right angle with your table or whatever surface you are using, and measure either of the right-angle sides. The average knitted dishcloth is about eight inches square, but it is your dishcloth; make it whatever size you like. If you absolutely need a stitch count, then take the suggested gauge for 10cm/4in on the ball band and multiply it by 2.5. (and yes, that is a cup of coffee in the photo)
By the way, the beginning few rows of this pattern look a bit wonky on the needle. Keep going. Since you are knitting the diagonal, you sort of have to wait for the sides to blossom out a bit.
The dishcloth is square, so as soon as one side is the desired length of one side of the square, you can start the next row.
Row 2: K1, k2tog (knit two together), yo, k2tog, and k to end.
Repeat this row until you have four stitches left on your needle. Cast off. Weave in ends. Done! To k2tog, you take the next two stitches on the left needle and knit them as if they were one stitch. Insert the right needle through both of them at once, second stitch first.
There is not a single purl in the bunch, so the most novice of knitters can make this pattern. Both sides are the same, and there is no need to count stitches. If you forget a yarnover, big deal. It is a dishcloth. It will be covered in suds to wash your dishes or your face, and if someone judges your craftsmanship then you should take them off of the “Knit-worthy” list.
To recap: Cast on four stitches, repeat row 1 until you think your dishcloth will be the correct size by measuring one of the sides, repeat row 2 until you have four stitches left, and cast off. A yarnover on its own is a left-leaning increase, so you are doing what’s called “knitting on the bias” by making a left-leaning increase on the right end of each row. Knitting on the bias is the same as knitting on the diagonal.
This basic pattern is an excellent building block for a ton of different knitting projects. You can use up those leftover balls of cotton yarn by weighing how much yarn you have, starting the pattern, and beginning your decreases when you are halfway through the ball. You can also do this pattern on a circular needle and make it much larger, for a baby blanket or an afghan. You can make several individual squares using any yarn you like, and then either sew or crochet them together to make a block afghan.
If you keep it as a dishcloth, most knitters can complete one in only a few hours. This means that if you are making these while waiting in line at the store or for the bus, you are making quick gifts for whenever you may need them. They do not need to be blocked, they will absorb water and be functional, and all of those little garter-stitch ridges will make your dish soap nice and sudsy.
If you would like to jazz up the pattern, consider a crocheted edge after casting off. You can also use different-coloured yarns to make diagonal stripes. If you do not mind the initial curl, you can leave the garter stitch border and purl after the yarnover on every other row.
Next time you are staring at your stash, or your brain hurts because all you want to do is knit, cast on four stitches and make Grandma’s favourite dishcloth. By the time you are finished, you will be as satisfied as if you ate a big meal on a holiday.
Last updated: October 1st, 2014.