If you do dishes, you know about dishcloths. These small but essential kitchen tools can be plain or colorful and they can also be knit by hand. Many knitters make dishcloths because they are small, portable projects that do not take a lot of time or yarn to complete. They are a good projects for beginning knitters or for more experienced knitters because they can be as easy or as elaborate as you want. They also make great gifts--who doesn't need a dishcloth or two?
Dishcloths do a lot of hard work, so they should be sturdy and machine washable. Several yarns will do the job, including 100 percent cotton yarn that is available at most big craft and discount stores. It is inexpensive and comes in hundreds of colors. Or consider hemp yarn, because it is durable and machine washable. Hemp is more expensive than 100 percent cotton, but if you want to try knitting with hemp, a dishcloth is a good way to start. Hemp yarn is available at yarn stores or from online retailers.
Choose a Pattern
Dishcloths do not have to be boring squares; they can be cabled, lace, intarsia or any other knitting technique that you'd like to try. Don't limit yourself to a single color; try stripes or a two-color slip stitch pattern. For more inspiration check out the Dishcloth Boutique, which has hundreds of free patterns.
Most yarns stretch when they get wet, so choose knitting needles that will give you a firm fabric, which may be a smaller needle than you usually use. Also consider what material the needle is made of. Cotton and hemp yarns are slippery, so a bamboo or wood needle that has a little grip is a better choice than a metal needle. These yarns can split easily, so a needle with a blunt point is better than a sharp point.
How Much Yarn?
A good size for a dishcloth is between seven and nine inches. To make a dishcloth this size, you'll need about 90 yards of worsted weight yarn. Most dishcloths can be completed with less than one ball of 100 percent cotton yarn.
After you assemble the yarn, pattern and needles, you are ready to start knitting. Read over the pattern to make sure that you understand all the instructions and cast on for your dishcloth.
Susan Brockett worked in the computer industry as a technical writer for nearly 20 years at companies including Motorola and Dell Computer Systems. In addition, her articles have appeared in Society of Technical Communications publications. Brockett has a master's degree in English composition and communications from Kansas State University.