Handy Work – Home-Made Dishcloths and Scourers

My mother and grandmother were incredibly capable women. Both were knitters, my grandmother could crochet and my mother was an experienced seamstress and needlewoman. I remember as a very small child helping with edging blankets, learning how to hand embroider, mend and being ever so proud when I learnt to knit and made my first diagonal dishcloth.

I don’t knit much these days, apart from the occasional scarf or beanie. But a couple of years ago I decided to ditch plastic dishcloths, which (apart from being bad for the environment) aren’t ideal for fine china and glassware when the cloths get older and brittle. So I made a set of beautiful soft cotton cloths again and branched out to smaller versions in jute string as scourers. The cloths look impressive, they’re very quick to make, incredibly durable (I machine wash mine) and it’s still the best way to learn how to increase and decrease with a decorative eyelet. A set of four or five cloths can also be a functional present. I made a set for a family member who’d recently renovated her kitchen and picked tones that matched her decor.

You’ll need a pair of knitting needles, and this is determined by the yarn you use and how tightly (or loosely) you knit. I tend to be quite a tight knitter to I use 4 or 4.5 mm needles (US size 6 or 7) for this kind of work. Some of the cotton yarn I salvaged was quite fine, so in some cases I doubled it to make a

Dishcloth from salvaged yarn – straight from the clothes line!

The basic pattern goes like this:

Cast on 2sts

1st Row: Knit 1, yarn forward (yfwd), knit 1 (3 stitches)

2nd Row: Slip 1, knit 1, yfwd, knit 1 (4 stitches)

3rd Row: *Slip 1, knit 1, yfwd, knit to end (5 stitches)

Repeat from * until the work is half the size required. I like about 25-30 stitches for jute scourers and about 55-60 stitches for cotton dishcloths.

(Decrease rows)

*Slip 1, knit 2 together (k2tog), yfd, k2tog, knit to end

Repeat until 2 stitches remain.

K2tog, and (if you want to hang your cloth) chain 12, cut thread and tie off. With a darning needle, sew the end of the thread into the base of the first chain to make a loop. Over sew a couple of times and trim.

Because they’re quick to make and a very simple pattern, I can easily make one cotton cloth in an evening watching television or several jute scourers. I prefer to get my cotton from Op Shops rather than buying new, it goes well with the reuse/recycle ethic I try and live by. I’ve even made some from a cotton top that I unpicked, washed the hanks of thread to take some of the kinks out, and dried in skeins.

Many fabric or yarn shops sell string but the best jute I’ve found is in the gardening section of my local hardware store. It’s a little harder on fingers to work the stiff threads but they are brilliant for scouring pots and pans and once they’re worn out they can go straight into the compost instead of landfill.

Have fun and please let me know how you go with this simple, practical craft project 🙂

Dishcloth and scourer


The Joy of Making – Day 25 NaBloPoMo

Super quick post today, as I’m about to go out for dinner and board games at my friend Karen’s place 😀

First of all, happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends. In countries like Australia and the US, we have much to be grateful for but I (like so many people outside of the US) are deeply concerned about the new regime that will come into power in the new year. I only hope that in four year’s time we will still have as much to be grateful for!

As the holiday season is only a month away, I’m making presents!

A couple of years ago, I got sick of washing my dishes with cloths that are really just softened plastic. So I started making my own knitted cotton ones from new and salvaged thread.

I’m particularly fond of purple and I paired this purchased 3 ply with a fine white cotton I found at the local Tip Shop to make a fairly chunky cloth that can be put through the washing machine and reused until it starts to fray. Then it can go in the compost and become worm food!


The pattern couldn’t be simpler. My mother taught me this when I was very little. Every row is plain (there’s no purl rows) and I use whatever size needles take my fancy:

Row 1: Cast on 2 stitches.

Row 2: Knit 1, bring the yarn forward and k 1. (Bringing the yarn forward or to the front of the work means you makes a stitch when the yarn loops over the needle to knit the next stitch).

Row 3: Knit 2 bring yarn forward and k 1.

Row 4: Knit 2 bring yarn forward and k to end.

Continue in this manner, increasing 1 stitch every row until you have a decent sized triangle of cloth – about 50 rows is good for an 8 ply cotton. The selvedge will have an eyelet effect from bringing the yarn forward for that one stitch at the beginning of every row. This eyelet is continued with the reducing rows too.

Reducing Rows:

Knit 1, knit 2 together, bring yarn forward, knit 2 together and knit to the end of the row.

Continue in this fashion (reducing a stitch) until you get down to the last 2 stitches. Knit them together and make some chain at the end to make a loop to hang off a tap or hook in the kitchen.


Too easy! I can make one in a night – if I don’t get distracted with other things!

Today I bought 2 balls of vibrant red 3 ply cotton to pair with the rest of the white cotton. I’m going to make four or five of these in red and white for a friend who’s just refurbished her kitchen and bought some rather dashing red chairs. I know she’ll appreciate something handmade ❤

And I splurged and got a couple of balls of 8 ply cotton to make a shopping bag. This pattern came via a friend of mine who’s always on the look out for new and interesting ways to use yarn and fabric.


This crocheted cotton bag is a present for me! If it turns out well, I might make a couple more for friends. When I was kid, we had old fashioned netting string bags that my father showed me how to make with twine. I’m really tempted to get a netting needle and go for it!

Anyway, must dash! See you all tomorrow ❤