Monday, January 30, 2012

DIY Monday - knitting a dishcloth, a beginner's project!

Those who know me will you tell you, I love to knit.

I knit at home, in the car, at the table after dinner, while talking, watching TV, waiting at the doctor's office, in the back of my big, auditorium classes, or (if I ask the prof. beforehand), right down in the front row.  I knit in the park, at the mall, and while we wait for our food at restaurants.  I am almost never without a knitting project in my purse or in my hands.

My mother first taught me when I was about nine.  I remember clumsily moving in the needles in my hands, and eventually abandoned my small project in frustration.  I learned again around age 17, when I really picked it up for good.

Since then, I've learned a few more complicated techniques, like cabling and lacework.  I've made a lot of things for relatives, and quite a few for the Mister and myself as well.

One of the first projects I really started on when we realized we wanted to move toward a simpler life, was knitting dishcloths.
I used the same pattern, over and over, to make over nine dishcloths in a  relatively short period of time.  Just a little square, knit on the bias (that basically means that you're knitting the square diagonally, from corner to corner, rather than side to side).  And then, because we were planning on the Mister going to law school in Washington, D.C. (that's right, my genius husband got accepted to Georgetown), they all got sent there.  And I'm pretty sure that it's there they remain, in a little Korean box with a few other treasures like a small, pink, melamine-handled vintage pancake turner that I so loved.

We need to get that box back, don't we?

So, I don't have any of those particular treasures to show you, only these couple that I found when I was going through my yarnage and then promptly finished in order to present to you here.

To make a long story short, our life plans completely changed one day, somewhat out of the blue, and now we're here in Idaho.  Quite possibly until the end of time.  So, I made another stock of knitted dishcloths (this time, I found a round dishcloth pattern that I love).  The square cloths we have now are for the bathroom, while the round ones reside in the kitchen.  I've heard that some people color coordinate in order to know which cloths belong where.  I, however, was working with yarn my mother had given me for free.  I didn't get to pick the colors, so I chose to work with shape instead.  Honestly, it's easier for the mister to remember, too, when he folds clothes.

This short, easy pattern is for the square.  It's actually the very first thing my mother taught me to knit at age 9, so you know it's easy!  Disregard the fact that I gave up in despair -- I was a fickle child. ;)

The dishcloth on top was knit with a lighter weight (thinner) yarn
from cupidstory's etsy shop (it's positively beautiful and ever so soft).
The dishcloth on the bottom was knit with unbleached Lion Brand cotton,
the kind you can pick up from any Michael's from Jo-Ann's in America.

If you are new to knitting, do not fear this pattern!  It has only 4 rows.  You simply repeat 1 of them, over and over for half of the cloth, and the second one over and over for the second half of the cloth.  Please refer to the key I've placed at the bottom of the pattern if you've never read a pattern or don't know what a certain abbreviation means.  I've also turned each part of the key into a link, so if you have anymore questions, either click the link, or email me, at

It should also be noted for beginners that there are really only two stitches when knitting: the knit stitch, and the purl stitch.  For this pattern, you need only know the knit stitch.  It is generally considered the easiest of the two, so you shouldn't have much of a problem.  However, let me know if you need help!

You can really see here how I try to use up all my last bits of yarn!  You can't really tell, but the blue one has four colors in it: Green, light blue, dark blue, and at the very tip, white, because I ran out of light blue just at the end. 

My Favorite Dish Cloth Pattern

You will need:
Knitting needles - either straight needles or circulars (any length over 16" should do, I suppose), I like size 5 or 6 for mine, but that's because I like the cloth thick and sturdy.  If you want to use a larger needle, your cloth will be done faster, but it will have a looser texture with "holes".
100% cotton yarn - I am still knitting through the stash of cotton my mother gave me upon our arrival back in the states.  Most of it is peaches-n-cream or sugar-n-cream brand, but there's also some lion brand cotton.  When I was in Korea, I bought the loveliest, most scrumptious organic cotton yarn from cupidstory's etsy shop.  It is ever, ever so soft and comes in some fun colors.  This yarn is a little lighter than an American worsted weight, so I used size 3 and 4 needles for it.  Keep in mind, however, that cotton shrinks.  So, even if your cloths end up a little loosely textured, they might tighten up a bit in the wash.
A large-eyed tapestry/yarn needle or crochet hook for weaving in ends
Scissors for cutting yarn


Using the long tail cast on, CO 4 sts.

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K2, yo, k to end.

Repeat Row 2 until you have 50-55 sts for a worsted weight yarn, or 60-65 for a lighter/DK weight yarn.  You get to decide when to stop.  This pattern doesn't rely on accurate stitch counts (another reason it's a great beginner's project!).  Remember to take into account that a dish cloth, when wet, tends to stretch and spread, so often, less is more.  A dish cloth that's about the size of your hand or slightly larger will certainly suffice.

When you decide your dish cloth is large enough, begin to decrease:

Row 3: K1, K2tog, yo, K2tog, K to end.

Repeat row 3 until you have just 4 sts left on your needle.

Row 4: Knit.

Now, bind off all sts.

Weave in the ends and you're done!

*Wash before using, as it may not soak up water well if you don't.  In fact, I like to wash mine several times before using, as you might do with a brand new towel.



You should really try this easy pattern.  Knitting can seem complicated and confusing, but often, if you'll just pick up the needles and have a go at it, it can be quickly demystified.

If you're confused by all the linking in the pattern, here is a list of the links to all the videos I gathered:


  1. I came across your blog just a couple hours ago while looking for a beginners knit dishcloth. Thanks so much for postng this, along with the video links! I am an avid loom knitter and am trying to teach myself to knit....i am halfway thru your dishcloth pattern and wanted to let you know it seems easy and is great for a beginner like me...thanks! -jen

  2. I just taught myself to knit this weekend. I have crocheted for almost 20 years now, but have always wanted to learn to knit. I learned through videos this weekend, and found your pattern Sunday night. I am halfway through the dishcloth and feel like I can safely say I can knit now! Thanks for the simple pattern! It was just what I needed. Also, I love these dishcloths. I used to have some a woman from back home knitted me, and they were always my favorite. Now I can replace those!

  3. I am a brand new knitter, and I have been knitting these dish cloths like they are going out of style. They have taught me so much about knitting and how to correct mistakes. The only thing is that I don't know how to fix the yarn over (yo) when I have to tink back to fix a twisted or dropped stitch. What's the secret of getting that YO edge back to perfect if you have to tink back? (am I making sense)

  4. I googled how to knit a dish cloth and came across your beautiful blog. I have some gotgeous colourful cotton that is begging to made into a dish cloth or three. So thank you for your beginners guide, I am inspired. Oh and hello to you all the way from New Zealand!! Sue

  5. Thank you for sharing! I love these and easy for so NJ eine like me that's just beginning to learn how to knit! Thank you again!

  6. Thank you for sharing your knitted cloths. They are super easy. I'm making a lot of them for friends and family for Christmas. And I 'm gonna make me some to.

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