I know there's a lot of dishcloth patterns out there, but many of them seem too fancy or impractical to me. Some of the slightly more complicated stitch patterns look nice and making a dishcloth would be a good way to practice a new stitch, but some designs seem too frilly for use; personally I don't think, say, lace edgings or or a big flower motif belong on something that will be used to scrub dishes. YMMV. I prefer my version of a crocheted dishcloth to any I've seen. It is so simple it would make a good first or second project, and it can actually be used to wash dishes. You only need to know some very basic stuff, it is mindless enough to do even while reading subtitles on an anime program, and it makes a dense fabric with ridges that I believe--rightly or wrongly; I've not actually done any remotely scientific testing of my notion--help with rubbing the dishes clean.
Super-Simple Crocheted Dishcloths
Skill level: Absolute beginner. (If you've really never crocheted before, see below for some helpful links.)
Materials:Worsted-weight cotton yarn, such as Peaches & Cream or Lion Cotton.*
Scissors and a large-eyed needle for weaving in ends of yarn
Chain (ch) 25.
1st row--Single crochet (sc) into second ch from hook and into each ch until end. Ch 1 and turn.
2nd row--Sc into the front loop (that is, the loop nearest your body) of each stitch (st) of the previous row. Ch 1 and turn.
Rows 3-20--Repeat 2nd row.
21st row--Repeat 2nd row, but at the end of the row do not turn.
Finishing--Add two additional sc at the end of row 21 and continue making sc in each st down the side and all the way around the dishcloth, making sure there's 3sc in each corner. When you get back to where you started, make a slip stitch (ss) to finish off. Optional: Instead of finishing off right there, ch 9 to make a loop for hanging the dishcloth and then ss to finish off. Weave in any loose "tails". (Actually, for the "tail" of yarn left from where you made your foundation ch, you can avoid having to weave it in by holding it over the edge of dishcloth and sc your border over it.)
Variation: Ch 27 and make 22 rows for a slightly larger dishcloth. (Obviously, these are sizes that work well in my hand; vary according to your hand-size and preferences.)
Variation: Use an ombre yarn for the main body of the dishcloth and then use a solid-colored yarn in one of the colors of the ombre for the border and optional hanging loop. For example, a yellow and white ombre yarn body and a solid yellow edging.
Variation: Add another row of border sc to the edge, either by continuing around again or by turning and going around the other way.
Variation: After the first row, make a normal sc--i.e., sc in both loops--for the first two and last two stitches of each row. This makes the ridge you get from crocheting in only the front loop not start at the edges. It looks nice, but because the yarn twists to go from the normal sc to the front-loop-only sc, you will have a bit of fabric all round the edge that feels a bit harder than the main fabric or the edging.
Variation: Use your imagination! Crochet is easy to frogstitch, so if you start something and don't like it, just pull it loose and start over--no yarn wasted.
*(Actually, you can use cheap acrylic yarn, such as Red Heart, for dishcloths if you want; acrylic yarn dries quickly--always a plus in a humid kitchen--and I'm not aware of any health reasons against it. Cotton is the standard, though.)
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If you've never crocheted before, Lion Brand Yarn's Learn to Crochet pages have some good, basic help to get you started. (You may have to subscribe to the site to see this site nowadays, but subscription is free and you then have access to lots of free patterns.)
If you want to see someone doing these things, Stitchguide.com (now subsumed into Annie's Attic) has short Quicktime videos. See
Single crochet ,
Crocheting into front loop only ,
Slip stitch ,
and Color change .