How can I design my own knit dishcloth?

Knitting dishcloths and facecloths from cotton is quick, satisfying, and fun. My favorite pattern is very simply, but knit on the bias. I cast on 3, then increase 1 at the start of each row until I'm half done, then I decrease 1 at the start of each row until I'm down to 3 again, and bind off. I might simply knit garter stitch (every row knit), or I might get more exciting with a seed-stitch border and stockinette in the middle.

When I started spinning cotton I decided I'd use it for two things -- knitting facecloths and weaving. Well, so far, I'm about 1/3 into my woven totebag ... and still spinning! But there are some fun cottons that won't "fit" the look of this tote, so I'm thinking it's time to knit a facecloth.

As if she read my mind, C asked me, how can I design my own knit dishcloth? Well, it's fairly straightforward. Decide how big you want it to be (8" by 8" is my typical size), determine your yarn's knitting gauge to figure out how many stitches to cast on, and get ready. For a design on the surface, it's pretty standard to knit a garter or seed stitch border (your choice) about 4-5 stitches and rows wide, then to make the large face of the cloth all knit stitches on the right side (stockinette stitch). Your design will be in purl stitches. This is knit flat, from the bottom row to the top row -- so, not the bias-type knitting I usually use.

Now, knitting stitches are typically "wide" -- 5 stitches usually is the same size as 7 rows. Thus, there is knitter's graph paper. Print out a sheet, decide how wide the picture will be in stitches, and draw your design on the paper. Then color all the squares your design covers a different color -- all of those stitches will be purls on the right side and knits on the wrong side. Follow your graph from bottom to top, knitting a few rows plain before and after, and adding edge stitches and rows to make it all square. Wa-la, your very own knit dishcloth.

Now, if all that is too much effort -- here's a long list of knit dishcloth patterns you can peruse.

Thanks for asking, C, I hope this helps!

6 comments:

vicki said...

Ok, this one I wasn't thinking of but I can see it could come in handy. the graph paper is definitely handy.

Magdalen Islands said...

Wow, you did a lot of research on this. I decided to knit my cousin a dishcloth and after I bought the needles, yarn and put in the time ($10/hr), I figure I put in about $40. lol. What can I say..., I'm a slow knitter. I didn't make one for myself.

Layla said...

Thanks for this great info!! :)

I'm a total newbie, but just crocheted my first 2 dishcloths yesterday, & I think now I'm addicted! :)

no idea if they aren't too small though.. hmm? (mine are about 12cm - 14 cm, which is 4.7 inch - 5.5 inch, tightly crocheted..)
so they would be too small?

do you have any info of a range as to how big/small they usually are?
(my reference so far was the non-knitted non-crocheted conventional plastic dish spongie!)

Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

Hi Layla,

I think they vary in size quite a bit -- I've seen pretty small ones that barely cover an adult hand, up to much larger ones 12" square. Making your own is a fun way to work out what size works best for you and the tasks you use it for.

Anonymous said...

ONLY QUESTION I HAVE IS I UNDERSTAND THE COLORES ONES YOUR DESIGN ISPURLED BUT HOW TO YOU DOO THE CHART DO YOU READ FORM BOTTOM UP AND FROM RIGHT TO LEFT AND THEN 2ND ROW LEFT TO RIGHT AS THIS PART I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THANKS

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Hello Anon,
Once you have the chart filled out, start at the lower right corner. Work the first row and all odd rows right to left as written (knit the knits and purl the pulls). You are knitting on the right side of the fabric for odd rows. Work the second and all even rows from left to right, purling the knits and knitting the purls. You are knitting on the wrong side of the fabric for even rows.
Thanks for asking,
Amelia.