How To...

Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Amy Kaspar


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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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)

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog


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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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.

Grandma's favourite dishcloth - LoveKnitting blog

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.

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Amy lives in Chicago and can either be found knitting, writing about knitting, designing knitted things, or watching professional hockey while knitting. There is also a necessary cup of coffee nearby at all times, Follow her on Twitter @thefiberfriend for more yarny bits.

Last updated: August 11th, 2017.

5 Responses to Grandma’s favourite dishcloth

  1. Irenin says:

    Thanks so much Amy. I think more and more we are going back to basics in craft projects and these will be so easy to work – even for experienced knitters they are ideal for Church Fairs, Harvest Festival stores, etc. Speaking as someone who still hasn’t managed to get her daughter to pick up knitting needles (said daughter is now in her mid thirties) – however many times she has said she will, she hasn’t – I shall be presenting her with a pair of needles and the appropriate yarn and sitting her down to get on with it! No excuses!

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Irenin…Amy here…thanks so much for the kind words, and let me know how it goes with your daughter!

  2. Maggie Sullivan says:

    I have to wait long hours at the hospital for my husbands appointments ,This is perfect. I don’t always like to take a more detailed project. They sometimes get garbled with the up and down of in the waiting room and then in the surgery. I needed something like this to keep me busy. However, never underestimate the power of knitting. We got into be seen because the nurse was a knitter and wanted to see what I was doing.. Lol poor hubby, not because what was wrong with him.

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Miss Maggie…Amy here…I certainly hope your husband is okay, but I’m glad to hear you now have a project to bring you. Be well!

  3. Ivy Harding says:

    If I am going on a bus journey and I know there are road works, always take my knitting along. Have to buy the lovely dish cloth cotton when I visit my family in Canada. I love the assortment of colours too.

Back to Top ↑