I don't know exactly when my grandmother started knitting dishcloths or where she learned the pattern. I do know that the free pattern I found online mirrored her pattern exactly, and that she didn't get it from the internet, so it would seem to be a traditional thing.
She would knit them to keep her hands busy while watching TV; she would finish a stack and give them to my mother. She eventually found them in high demand.
When I moved into my first apartment my mother gave me a stack of the ones my grandmother had given her. She had dozens, my mother said, so she could spare a few. Ever since my grandmother died I've kept them in a drawer, purposely avoiding their intended use. She would say that's what she made them for, but I can't sully her knitting with dirt.
I make my own to use instead. You can too.
- A 100% cotton yarn; Lily's Sugar 'n Cream is a popular choice.
- Needles suitable for the yarn you're using (Sugar 'n' Cream yields a four-inch square over 20 stitches and 26 rows using 4.5 mm/US 7 knitting needles).
While they can be knit horizontally, the pattern I know and love is done diagonally.
- Cast on four stitches.
- Knit all four stitches.
- Knit two, yarn over. Knit until the end of the row.
- Repeat the third step until you are content with the diagonal length of the cloth. I tend to get up to about 45 stitches.
- You're halfway there; the knitting should be in the shape of a triangle. You're ready to start the second half. Knit one, knit two together, yarn over, knit two together and knit the rest of the row.
- Do this until you have four stitches remaining.
- Cast off and weave in the loose ends.
They are strong and absorbant. One ball of Sugar 'n Cream is usually good for two dishcloths if the recommended needles are used.
For Grandma, whom I miss terribly.
wertperch says My grandma used to make dishcloths just like that.