A variation on the old-fashioned cotton washcloth

Over the summer while in the USA I bought some cotton yarn and changed up the typical easy knitted washcloth. First, I’ll give you the pattern that most everyone knows that is done in garter stitch. Then, I’ll offer instructions for making a different cloth in seed stitch (so much more interesting!)

Lots of knitters know all about how to make washcloths the easy way: cast on a few stitches, increase on every row with yarn overs until it’s wide enough, then begin decreasing on every row until you have a square. The cloth is knit “diagonally.” These cloths are great to make when you’re craving some mindless knitting. They are very useful to have around the house. Although they’re supposed to be used for washing the dishes I use them as an exfoliating face cloth.

Here’s a picture of the typical garter stitch washcloth (knit with a variegated Sugar n’ Cream ball of cotton yarn):

This is the pattern for the traditional cloth:

Materials: 1 skein worsted-weight 100% cotton yarn and a pair of US size 6 or 7 (4 or 4.5 mm) knitting needles


Cast on 4 stitches.

Row 1: Knit 4

Row 2: Knit 2, yarn over, knit across the row.

Repeat Row 2 until you have 44 stitches on the needle.

Row 3: Knit 1, Knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to the end of the row.

Repeat Row 3 until you have 4 stitches on the needle. Bind off.

Very easy! Almost too easy.

I made a variation on this cloth by using seed stitch, firming up the corners a bit, and keeping the edges even with a selvedge stitch. It’s a little more involved but a little more challenging to make. To learn how to knit seed stitch follow this link. Seed stitch is nothing more than making a first row of K1 P1 and then from there knitting the purl stitches you see and purling the knit stitches you see.

The starting corner is made by knitting with increases in garter stitch. After that, the cloth is knit diagonally with a selvedge edge, garter stitch border, and yo increases at the beginning of every row and then seed stitch to the end of each row. When the desired width is achieved the decreases begin, maintaining the same selvedge edge. Finally, the ending corner is decreased with no selvedge edge and closed nicely with a tight bind off. Here’s what it looks like:

The square is just a tad bit more, well, square. I’ve decided to call it my OCD washcloth.

Here’s how to make it:

Cast on 2 stitches.

Row 1: K2

Row 2: K1, yo, K1

Row 3: K1, yo, knit through the back loop of the next stitch (Ktbl), yo, k1

Row 4: K1, yo, Ktbl, K1, Ktbl, yo, K1

Row 5: Slip 1 wyif, Ktbl, K3, Ktbl, K1

Row 6: Slip 1 wyif, K2, yo, K to end of row

Row 7: Slip 1 wyif, K2, yo, knit in seed stitch to last 3 stitches, K3

Continue repeating Row 7, slipping the first stitch with yarn in front, knitting 2 stitches, and then knitting seed stitch (K the P stitches you see, P the K stitches you see) to the yarn over and ending the row with K3 until you have 44 stitches on the needle.

Decrease row: Slip 1wyif, K1, K2tog, yo, k2tog, knit seed stitch to last three stitches, K3.

Repeat the decrease row until 7 stitches remain on the needle. Begin corner decreases:

Corner Row 1: Slip 1 wyif, K2tog, K1, K2tog, K1
Corner Row 2: K2tog, K1, K2tog
Corner Row 3: K1, K2tog
Bind off tightly.

I decided to write about this today because it’s really cold. I made these in July in New England when it was, as we say, “wicked hot.” Remembering July did not make it seem warmer, that’s for sure!

Do you like this? If you want, you could buy me a coffee.

* NOTE (February 21, 2015): I’ve edited the “OCD Washcloth” pattern. I realized that the instructions were telling people to knit seed stitch to the end of Row 7 and to the end of the decrease row. Now the instructions are written correctly, so that there is a garter border all around the cloth. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. In truth, you can knit seed stitch to end of those rows if you want to. It will still look nice. It just won’t be real garter stitch.


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