The humble knitted dishcloth; and a hand injury update

A dishcloth made in a garter stitch log cabin style, with rectangular pink borders surrounding a blue square centre.
Log Cabin Dishcloth

It’s been 5 long months since I knitted last, and I really, truly, deeply, miss it. Knitting had been a constant in my life since I was a teen, and to not be able to keep my hands busy with needle and yarn has been a trying time. Knitting occupied my mind when I was anxious and soothed my through my trauma. It gave me something to do when I couldn’t do anything else but sit there. Now, I just have to sit and do nothing.

No one really seems to know what’s going on with my right hand and wrist. After giving me the usual “medicine isn’t an exact science” speech, a hand surgeon suggested I might have tendonitis in the elbow, a torn ligament in my wrist and inflammatory arthritis, but none would account for all of my symptoms. My inflammatory markers are frustratingly normal, an MRI would be pointless as the treatment is the same (rest and splinting), so I’ve hit a dead end.

Dr Spacemen from 30 Rock speaks on phone. Text: medicine is not a science


So while I mope and moan about not being able to do one of the VERY FEW THINGS that I have been able to do in the past,* I thought I’d post a tribute to my most successful, and least assuming, knitted item. If the title didn’t already give it away: it is a knitted kitchen dishcloth. These simple knitted squares have been my most-knit, and most-used, knitted items by far. Why do I like knitted dishcloths so much?

A blue knitted dishcloth with a Dalek textured pattern.
Exfoliate! Dalek Cloth


A knitted dishcloth in a basketweave pattern, part teal and part variegated blue white yarn.
Garter Basketweave Dishcloth, from Three Dishcloths pattern

They are easy: a simple square is the most basic of shapes when learning to knit. But even if you’ve knit colourwork, brioche and double-sided shapes** there is something inherently soothing and just plain fun about knitting squares. Of course, dishcloths don’t have to be square – you’ll find all kinds of fun shapes in the dishcloth category on Ravelry! (And see what I’ve made in my Ravelry project page.)

A pink square dishcloth in a knitted, textured raspberry stitch pattern with garter border.
Raspberry Baby Washcloth

They are practical: a knitted dishcloth can be used to clean all manner of objects without scratching or damaging them. They last far longer than their disposable counterparts – just chuck them in the wash and reuse. That means they’re much easier to sanitise than sponges too.

Knitted Dish Scrubbie, made from cotton yarn knit together with cut up mesh
A wonky dishcloth made in a blue stockinette with pink garter stitch rectangular relief pattern.
Ballband Dishcloth. I think this would work a lot better in a thicker yarn.

They are versatile: “dishcloth” patterns are not only for dishes, you can knit (and crochet!) scrubbies, facial/body washcloths, dusters, mop covers, enlarge to act as a bathmat, etc….

Spa Day Facecloth
Crochet Coasters, which could easily be used as a dishcloth

They can be used all year around: unlike knitted jumpers, cardigans, hats and scarves which I can only seem to wear for about 2 months a year before the weather gets too hot for them.

A yellow knitted dishcloth in a textured waffle pattern.
Waffle Knit Dishcloth

They make great gifts: I used to hand knitted dishcloths out by the dozen when I was a more prolific knitter.

A stockinette dishcloth with garter stripes, in pink with a thick blue stripe down the middle
Farmhouse Kitchen Knitted Dishcloth. Made to use up scraps of yarn.

They are good practice: what is a swatch but a knitted square, ie, a dishcloth? Need to practice any stitch patterns? Dishcloth. Want to try your new needles but can’t be bothered with a full project? Dishcloth. Need to finish off/try new yarn? Dishcloth.

A folded up, crocheted dishcloth in vivid orange, pink and yellow yarn in a starburst pattern, with a crochet hook on top.
Little Starbursts Dishcloth. Good for practicing your crocheting if you’re a knitter (and vice versa!)


A blue dishcloth in a waffle knitted pattern.
Waffle Knit Dishcloth, from Three Dishcloths pattern

Even if I didn’t use my knitted dishcloths so much, I think  I would still keep knitting them as in-between project refreshers. There’s nothing like a bit of mindless garter stitch after a complicated pattern! My favourite pattern would have to be Grandmother’s Favourite – easy to knit and easy to use.

Do you enjoy knitting dishcloths? What’s your favourite pattern?

A plain pink garter stitch dishcloth, knitted diagonally from end to end with a yarnover border
Grandmother’s Favourite, the original and the best



*Seriously, I’m not asking for much. It’s not like I have anything else to occupy my time.

**I have only done the first of these three techniques, so I’m making a bit of an assumption here.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

9 thoughts on “The humble knitted dishcloth; and a hand injury update”

  1. I started knitting dishcloths after reading a post about them by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. They have all the virtues they list, as well as looking great and feeling nice. They started my efforts to replace all the petrochemical cleaning cloths and pads in my kitchen. Almost there now. I even bought twine to knit scrubbies for more abrasion power, but they don’t have the pleasure of simple cotton knitted squares.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The humble dishcloth, very versatile & I like the range of colours & patterns! So sorry about your hand though, that’s so frustrating to not get adequate answers of what’s going on or a more effective way to deal with it moving forward. I’ll keep my fingers crossed things do improve though, and soon, so you can get back to doing the things you enjoy 😊
    Caz xx


  3. Oh bummer! How much is one person supposed to take? Fingers crossed for you, that your hand will heal and you can knit again soon. I’ve knitted loads of dishcloths and washcloths, and I love the last pattern. Grandma’s favourite is my favourite too. It’s elastic, keeps its shape and is a pretty mindless knit. My hands can work while I focus on something else. I’ve knitted hand towels too, and there I love trying out all kinds of combinations of knit and purl, so no favourite there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I already shared my little clothes with you but I just have to say again, yours are great! I’m so sorry your hand is revolting against unknown forces. The body…somedays it’s just one big eye roll. Like seriously, c’mon, body lets call a truce!? Hoping either it lifts or they figure out how to ease the pain. Crocheting is so peaceful and I can only imagine knitting is the same. I miss it terribly and wasn’t nearly as talented as you so I can only imagine how you must be feeling. Hoping today was/is/will be peaceful for you. 🌼

    Liked by 1 person

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