When I tell people about knitting dishcloths, their first question is usually some variation on "Why?" There are a lot of reasons to knit dishcloths! From a knitter's perspective, dishcloths are a great filler project. They're small and portable like socks, but much less complicated. These two patterns will take only 2-4 hours to complete.
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'N Crème (available at Joann's and most other big box craft stores) or Peaches & Cream (available at Walmart)
Gauge: 5 st/inch over stockinette.
Needles: #7 /4.5mm or as needed to get gauge
Basic Dishcloth Knitting Pattern
1. Cast on 35 stitches.
2. Knit every stitch (i.e. garter stitch) until it's square.
3. Bind off.
Slightly Fancier Dishcloth Knitting Pattern
This is knit diagonally (on the bias).
1. Cast on 3 stitches.
2. *knit, yo, knit to end of row* every row until you have 40 stitches on the needle.
3. * knit, k2tog, knit to end of row* every row until you have 3 stitches left. Bind off.
For one thing, this is something that you literally cannot buy at the store. Which is a shame, because a 100% cotton dishcloth, in a scrubby stitch pattern, machine washable, is hands down the #1 best thing you can use to wash dishes. And as someone without a dishwashing machine, I should know!
(Just to be clear, the dishcloth is the thing you squeeze soap onto and use to scrub your dishes. You can also use dishcloths to wipe up spills and clean your counters and such. But they work best for washing dishes.)
Dishcloths are fast and easy to knit, and they make great gifts. No one ever said "No thanks, I already have one." The more dishcloths you have, the better! I have enough that I can bust out a fresh one every day without running out between loads of laundry.
It's true that cotton is one of the worst crops from an ecological perspective. But it's a far sight better than oil, which is what kitchen sponges are made from. And you really shouldn't be microwaving your sponges, because it's a pretty serious fire hazard.
And the yarns are great! So cheap, and in so many colors! It seems like the dishcloth yarn manufacturers are coming out with new lines of colors every month. The most recent news is Lily's Sugar 'N Crème, which is coming out with a line of Mod 1960s colors and stripes. WANT.
I recently dug myself out from under a fairly substantial stash. I had enough yarn to knit between 85 and 120 dishcloths, depending on the pattern. Considering I knit about ten dishcloths a year… yeah. Then a friend had an urgent need for dishcloth yarn in any color, so I got to look like the hero by dumping a ton of my unwanted colors on her. Ha! Joke's on her! Now I get to buy more yarn!
My new rule is "one in, one out." Meaning that I can't buy another ball of dishcloth cotton until I finish knitting one. The allure of dishcloth yarn is so great that it's easy to build up a lifetime's supply. And at only about $2 a ball, it's not very expensive to do so!