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Doing Dishes

Based on my knitting history, my choice for the letter D should come as no surprise.

D is for Dishcloths


As a child, I always remember a handknit cotton dishcloth hanging over the sink or faucet in the kitchen. These dishcloths were the only thing that mom would use to wash dishes, clean counters, deal with the spills and messes that children can make. I remember always being amazed that it seemed like no matter how big the mess, that dishcloth could handle it. Mom remembers getting some of these dishcloths from an aunt as a wedding gift & initially not knowing what they were. Obviously she quickly caught on to the power of the handknit dishcloth. Grandma learned the pattern from Aunt Irene & so we never were at a loss for dishcloths.

When I had an apartment in college & in my pre-knitting days Grandma kept me in dishcloths as well – no visit with her was complete without getting a few more dishcloths for the stash. One drawer of her bookcase by the front door was always filled with dishcloths to share.

As I’ve mentioned before, learning to knit the cotton dishcloth for myself was my catalyst for learning to knit in 1997. Since then, I have always had a stash of dishcloth cotton – years ago it was maybe only 2 or 3 balls. These days…um…one whole cube in my craft storage is filled with dishcloth cotton. Whenever I’m in a craft store and see a selection of Sugar’n Cream yarn there is a good chance that I will pick out a color or two. Sugar’n Cream was Grandma’s favorite yarn for the dishcloths – it only made sense that it became mine as well. I remember a couple of times when Grandma knit with another kitchen cotton and she would always comment that it wasn’t the same as SnC.

In recent years I’ve dabbled with assorted dishcloth patterns – through the Monthly Dishcloth KAL, from websites & Ravelry, from MDK, from pattern booklets. I find that I always return to the Grandma’s Favorite pattern – especially when using the variegated or twist colorways.

Dishcloths are my go-to project. I haven’t yet hit a point of having too many dishcloths. Now that Grandma doesn’t knit anymore, I keep Artisan Mom & Rebecca stocked with dishcloths. Of course my kitchen is stocked. And I always have a stash of dishcloths on hand to use for hostess gifts – in fact, I have a box filled with dishcloths & coordinating tea towels so that I don’t have to show up empty handed.

I keep dishcloth supplies in the car. They come in handy when the line for a carwash in the winter stretches around the block. A basic dishcloth is perfect movie theater knitting. When I feel like knitting but don’t want to have to think about what I’m doing I’ll reach for the dishcloth cotton.

In this vintage apartment I don’t have a dishwasher. So all of my dishwashing is done with a handknit cotton dishcloth. As I stand in my kitchen & do dishes I remember seeing Grandma at her kitchen sink washing up the dishes. When she was done, the pale yellow tile kitchen counters would be wiped off, the dishcloth rung out & then it would be hung over the faucet – to dry and be ready to handle any mess that came into the kitchen.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to the humble knitted dishcloth. Great entry.

  2. I love your ode to the dishcloth and agree with you 100%. They were one of the reasons that I wanted to learn to knit, too. I have been neglecting my dishcloth love, so I need to replenish my stash!

  3. What a fun post. I love the picture of all your dishcloths. I have a stack under my sink . . . but now I have the urge to knit a few more to add to the stack. πŸ™‚

  4. Hand knit dishcloths are the best. If I ever finish John’s sweater, I may indulge again. Which pattern did your Grandmother use? Is it the diagonal dishcloth, a.k.a. “idiot’s dishcloth?”

  5. Oh my goodness, I need knit dishcloths!! I have yet to knit one but I hate the cheap cloths I use to wash dishes. They start to fall apart after only a few washings and I know that knit ones would hold up so much better and make cleaning so much nicer. I really should knit some. I don’t know what’s holding me back.

  6. I am so spoiled by handmade dishcloths…I used to hoard them when we lived far away from your grandma. They are always a visible hug even in the midst of everyday chores. Some of my favorites are the ones made from all the leftovers! Thanks for keeping my stash full…LOVE YOU

  7. Well said!

    …from someone else who has ‘a history of dishclothes’.

  8. I love those dishcloths too! Now I have my mom addicted.

  9. Great D entry! I love dishcloths. I’m slowly converting my family to them – my mother is currently bugging me for more.

  10. This is such a sweet entry and nice family memory. Thank you for sharing! I can’t help but tease though, that I am glad D also stands for dishwasher. πŸ™‚ Seriously, I have a hotpad crocheted by my great-great grandmother made of ordinary white cotton, and because she made it, and I never knew her, it is a treasure.

  11. What a great post! brings back lots of memories! We use them regularly around here too!

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