The Dish on Dishcloths

My youngest sister, Charlie, is getting married at the end of May. While this is an enormous event in my personal life, it wouldn’t matter much for the blog except for one small detail. For her bridal shower, my mother and former boss at the restaurant I worked at in high school crocheted dishcloths as favors for everyone who attended. Before using my homemade cloth, my attitude towards handmade dishcloths was something like, “Pffft. Who would spend all that time making something you’re going to clean a scuzzy sink with?” After using the cloth, however, I decided the effort was worth the reward. It’s so much sturdier and less prone to developing gym-locker scent than my store-bought, woven dishcloths. Who’d ‘a’ thunk?

I went a little crazy when I popped into A.C. Moore to buy some dishcloth yarn. First, my husband and I have been doing some food photography and crazy dishcloths have potential as props. Second, the yarn was on sale. Third, the colors were completely enchanting. I had a hard time forcing myself not to buy one of everything. 600+ yards makes more than enough dishcloths for a household of two people who don’t use more than two a week.

When I surfed over to Ravelry to find a pattern, I expected to find one or two iterations of basic patterns that everyone uses. I did not expect to find the wealth of really interesting designs that I did. Dishcloths, apparently, are a perfect trial ground for complex pattern stitches to be worked out on a project that can look like crap without hurting anyone’s feelings. ¬†They’re also a deliciously quick “finished project” fix. They’re also a source of some valuable lessons…even though the dishes won’t care, it is possible to screw up a dishcloth.

Anyway…here are the patterns I worked on and what I thought of them. (N.B. You may need to have a Ravelry account to view some of the links, but if you’re a knitter and you don’t have a free Ravelry account, you should get one anyway.)

Stockinette Dishcloth

This is the most common style of cloth I saw, pretty and simple. This pattern is easy to parse, though to be fair, if you can’t write this pattern understandably, writing patterns might not be your calling. Important lesson learned: Gauge matters. Not that it matters how big or small your gauge is, but it matters that you have square stitches, i.e., you should have the same number of rows and stitches per inch. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a diamond, like this:

Reverse Mitered Dishcloth

I didn’t like this as much as the first, mostly because I hate binding off, and you end up binding off half the diameter of the perimeter of the darn thing. Same lesson applies as with cloth #1–square gauge = square cloth.

Vignes (Vineyard) Dishcloth

Although it seems to have been translated into English from French, this pattern was the most straightforward of the lot. It may become my go-to pattern, because there’s just enough to think about to make it interesting. Repeating the pattern stitch three times made for a large cloth (and possible not square, if the picture can be believed), so I made it a 2×2 repeat. The pattern is worked over a multiple of 15, with 4 stitches on each side for a garter stitch border. I’m going with a seed stitch border on the next one–I mildly loathe garter stitch.

Yvonne’s Double Flower Cloth

Use loooong double-pointed needles for this–even with five, I kept dropping stitches off the end. The pattern is easy to follow. It’s also a hoot to make, but either I worked the binding off too tightly or my gauge was off, because this is really more of an quirky yarmulke than a dishcloth.

Circular Facecloth with Lace Edging

By far my favorite finished cloth, I will probably never make this again. For one thing, it’s just too darn pretty to use to clean anything, face or dishes. For another thing, it’s garter stitch, and I’d try reworking it for stockinette first. Be warned: the pattern is not especially clear and adds in some semi-useless information about the stitches in a uselessly confusing way. It is a great beginner project for lace and circular shaping through short rows, though, so I’d recommend giving it a whirl.

These only used up three of my six balls of yarn, so I may do a second part to this review sometime in the future. In the meantime, here are some patterns that I found particularly tempting and/or amusing…

Playful Plaid Cloth

An exercise in what looks like a new way of playing with color, for me anyway.

Double Diamond Circular Facecloth

More lace and circular shaping that will probably be too pretty to actually use.

Doctor Who TARDIS Dishcloth

Because, honestly, shouldn’t a dishcloth be able to travel through time and relative dimensions in space?

Stargate Earth Dishcloth

And dishcloths should always point the way home…or something like that.

Tuscany Tile Ensemble

The pattern seems to have disappeared for this one, so I may assign myself the challenge of recreating it, just because those cables are cool. Like bowties.

If you know of any other supremely awesome patterns, by all means, toss some links up in the comments. I’m supposed to be working on a shaped, severely cabled sweater for myself, and quite frankly, dishcloths are proving to be delightful scary-sweater-avoidance fodder.