Amazing Dishrags – Knitting Cotton Dishcloths

Knitting cotton dishcloths is a fun and simple project that make great add-on gifts

Why I am Knitting Cotton Dishcloths

When I started knitting cotton dishcloths, I thought I’d maybe make a couple to try and that would be it. I gave one to my husband, who washes the majority of the dishes, to try. “Can you make some more?” He said, “Those are awesome!”. They have become his fave dishcloths, and it has become a ritual that every autumn I make a new batch: some for him, some for gifts.

I also crochet dishcloths which I equally like, but this post will look at simple knitted cotton dishcloths that you can easily make on the go or in front of the TV. You’ll have a ton of gift add-ons in no time!

My wall of cotton yarn, that I hand dyed with fiber reactive dyes – see that racoon on he wall? My mom made that when I was a child. She passed in 2008, so I’m very proud to display it in my studio.

You may have read my post on dyeing cotton yarn. Whether your stash is store bought or hand dyed, these are the simple patterns that I like the most for knitting cotton dishcloths.

Why Make Knitted Cotton Dishcloths

Cotton dishcloths are super absorbent and feel great in hand. I prefer a pattern where front and back look the same or similar. I’ve tried a lot of patterns and the simple, basic knit stitch looks best, in my opinion. To add interest you can accent with different types of stitches mixed in. That means these patterns are perfect for beginners!

Cotton is a completely different textile to knit compared to wool. Yes, the mechanism of knitting is the same, but cotton is not springy like wool. Since it has little to no give I find that it can be hard on the hands if you knit a lot in one sitting. You also don’t want to make your stitches too tight or it’s hard to knit the next row. Too loose however, and you may find your dishcloth falling apart prematurely.

I’m curious how handspun cotton will feel, because I find it to be significantly softer. You can also buy cotton/acrylic hybrid yarn that feels softer in hand, but I personally don’t have any experience with it.

My first attempt at spinning cotton yarn. It’s much softer than the commercial variety. It’s very short stapled so I think next time I will need to spin it from the fold if I want a thinner yarn. I’ll write about dyeing and knitting this yarn, another day.

My Fave Memorized Dishcloth Pattern

My fave simple easy knitted dishcloth using two different colors of yarn. The contrast color was a speckle dye.

This is a really simple idea for knitting up a basic dishcloth. I was tired one night and wasn’t ready for bed, so I let my hands and brain do what it wanted.

Here’s the pattern, it’s very easy to remember. I’m using mill ends cotton, with size US7 needles. You can make your dishcloths as big as you wish, so simply use my sizing as a guide.

With MC (main color) Cast on 32

K13 rows with MC

Row 14 – switch to C2 (color 2) – K1P1 across

Row15 – K1S1 (knit one, slip one) across with C2

Row 16-17 – with MC, knit across

Repeat Rows 14 – 17 5x

Then knit MC K13 rows

Cast off

I told you it was easy! Perfect for beginners, and easy to do while watching a movie or sitting on the bus (or waiting for kids to be done their activity, which is the story of my life).

This dishcloth was knitted as a variation of Knit Picks Woven Stripes Dishcloth Pattern

Other Easy Patterns You May Wish to Try




I like these three patterns as well, free for use from Super easy to remember. I make mine smaller than the patterns call for.

As you can see I put off weaving in ends last minute! Probably my least favorite thing to do in knitting projects. I messed up the join in the middle (too loose in some areas), but I cut a long tail and wove it through to remedy that.
Easy Short Row Knitting makes a nice looking dishcloth with two contrasting colors. Why not try 4 colors? That’s on my to try list!

Other Types of Cotton Yarn to Knit With

Cotton scrubby yarn is easy to work with too – since you can’t see the stitches, just do the knit stitch every row. They work wonderfully on stubborn baked on food.

I enjoy making little scrubbies with cotton scrubby yarn. I’ve wondered if I could spin a variation of this, maybe like spinning a boucl√©? It’s certainly an affordable yarn to buy commercially, so I’ll stick to that for now. I buy the white and off-white, and dye it myself.

There is also an acrylic equivalent to this yarn, but I have no experience with it. Since it has a texture I don’t do anything fancy with it, just the basic knit stitch. You won’t see the pattern well anyway, due to the yarn construction. I make these even smaller than the traditional knitted dishcloth, by request of my hubby. He liked the smaller size for scrubbing out pots.

The finished scrubby dishcloth. Make them whatever size you desire. My DH likes them on the smaller side.

Other ways to Come up with Dishcloth Patterns

Think of some of the patterns you love in other projects such as hats, scarves or sweaters. One thing I also like to do is practice new-to-me stitch patterns.

Practising tunisian crochet (left) and working out a pattern from my encyclopedia of stitches (right)

How Long Will Knitted Dishcloths Last

Knitted dishcloths do fall apart eventually. The type of stitch you use, as well as how loose your stitches were knitted will make a difference. I also find really lacey patterns, although pretty to look at, fall apart quicker than basic knit and crochet stitches. At least this is true for dishcloths, they would probably be fine for face cloths.

Above is an array of dishcloths in various stages of use. The front cloth was made this time last year, and will have been in circulation for one 1 year later this month. The other two are approx. 3 years older, and you see they are starting to develop holes. We use them until there is basically nothing holding them together anymore, so we still expect to get at least a couple years worth of use from the old ones. Also of note is how my dyeing skills have improved since! You can read my post on dyeing cotton yarn for more info.

Once I get through this batch of cotton yarn I really want to try making dishcloths and hand towels out of bamboo. I’ve heard such great things about bamboo for these practical purposes. I love to spin bamboo, so I think it willbe a fun project to embark on. More on that in a future post.

Do you love or hate to knit with cotton? Will this post encourage you to give it a try or do you have an tips or tricks for me? Would love to hear from you…

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