Knitting washcloths

For the past couple of decades I've been knitting dishcloths. I generally knit some for gifts through the year and I make sure I always have eight or nine cloths in my kitchen linens drawer. Knitting is good for the soul. It slows you down, gives you a reason to sit and stay quiet while adding to the products that support you with your housework.

Above are my latest dishcloths. While Hanno was in hospital and the nursing home, I knitted some for Shane, my nephew Danny, Tricia and I'm just now finishing off a set for myself.  I knit a new set for myself every year and when the older cloths are no longer serviceable, they go into the rag bag for general cleaning and when they're worn out, to their final resting place in the compost heap. 

I use organic knitting cotton for my washcloths but any type of knitting cotton would do. Just make sure you DON'T use wool. It will shrink in hot water and take ages to dry. To buy online, try EcoYarns, Spotlight, in the US Peaches and Cream or Laughing Hens in the UK. I think 8 ply is the best weight but if you have lighter weight cotton, use two strands and knit them together.  I did this recently with Japanese 4 ply cotton it was easy to do and it looked really good.

  1. Either leftover knitting cotton or a ball or skein of cotton yarn.  You'll get about one and a half washcloths from one ball.
  2. Straight knitting needles. This doesn't have to be precise - either 4.00mm, 4.5mm or 5.00mm if you're in Australia, UK sizes - 8, 7 or 6, or US sizes - 6, 7 or 8.  I used 5mm needles for my washcloths.

Knitting Instructions:
Cast on and after three rows you'll increase the length of each row until you reach 50 stitches.
    Cast on 4 stitches
    Knit next 2 rows
    Next Row: Knit 2, Yarn Over, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 50 stitches

    Then you'll start to decrease:
    Next Row: Knit 1, Knit 2 together, Yarn Over, Knit 2 together, Knit across to end
    Repeat this row until you have 4 stitches left
    Knit 2 rows even
    Cast Off

This is what the first half of your dishcloth will look like. At this point, I start to decrease the length of each row.

If you're an absolute beginner, teach yourself to knit by watching these YouTube videos. It's not difficult. This beginners' dishcloth pattern is an ideal way to learn to knit because you'll be able to produce something while you learn. Expect to make mistakes, we all do when we learn anything new. Mistakes make you stop and think. 

All the stitches you'll need are in the list below:

I use organic cotton. It's soft, very absorbent and they can be used and added to your ordinary washing load. If they're stained, an overnight soak in sodium percarbonate - Napisan, Sard, Disan etc., will easily take care of the stains. They'll last for a couple of years if you use and care for them this way.  They're ideal for washing up by hand, wiping kitchen benches and for more general cleaning such as walls, doors, mirrors and glass.

These are some new skeins and lots of leftover balls of knitting cotton. This is how I use all those little bits of cotton and end up with new washcloths every year. There's no wastage, just repetitive stitches which, like meditation, relieve stress and add to our self-reliance.

Knitting has been part of human life for thousands of years and it's a really useful skill or have. Knitting washcloths may seem like such a simple activity you might wonder why I bother when I could easily go to the supermarket and buy cloths. Knitting is a small step and simple life is full of small steps. Living as I do isn't about large gestures or about complicated ways of doing things. Sometimes it's just sitting quietly and slipping stitches from one needle to another.

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