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I have finished my "I Don't Do Dishes" hand knit cloth design once and for all! The final version isn't perfect, but it is square and it's much more legible than the prototype, at least to me. Some people said that they could see the text more clearly in photos taken with a flash, and some people said it was clearer without one, so I've provided both versions. The flash photo is on the left and the naturally-lit photo is on the right.




(Click the pics to view them larger.)


I thought that I would share my method of designing this kind of pattern. There are lots of face and dish cloths made in this style available free on the Internet; Knitting Pattern Central has a tonne of them, and I have to say that my geeky side was pleasantly pleased to discover the Transformers Cloth by Knitting Memories. Yet I have not come across a tutorial for how to actually design the patterns themselves. Maybe it is simply that my Google-fu is weak.

What is the official name of this knitting technique? I Googled and asked around on Ravelry, and although the technique itself is quite popular, it doesn't seem to have a commonly agreed-upon name -- unlike, for example, entrelac, or intarsia, or fair isle. The best suggestion that I found was to call it embossed because it resembles the metalworking and paper-making technique by the same name. So until someone corrects me, "embossed" is the name that I will use.


How To Design An Embossed Face/Dish Cloth Pattern




(Click the pic to view it larger.)


1) Choose your yarn.

For dish/face cloths I prefer using Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton yarn, which is 20 stitches to 10cm x 10cm (4" x 4") on 4.5mm (US/UK 7) needles. However any 100% cotton yarn will do. I would suggest a solid-colour yarn instead of multicoloured or variegated one so that the design will not be lost in the contrasting colours of the yarn.

Unless you're a real stickler that all of your cloths be exactly the same size, it is perfectly acceptable to work in different yarns and their corresponding needles. Barring extreme cases, a cloth of any size will still work as a cloth and fit is not a factor. However, I don't suggest using a yarn any finer than a light worsted weight; most fine cottons will not stand up to the rigours of being used as a cloth. If you intend your cloth to be used as a baby washcloth, I would suggest using a softer yarn instead of a lighter weight.

As a side note, recycled cotton yarn, i.e. yarn that has been salvaged from old sweaters and the like, is often great to use for cloths! It has likely been washed a number of times so it won't leak dye or shrink, and generally it's pretty soft so it's great for face or baby cloths. Just be sure to launder the old garment thoroughly before you take it apart for its yarn. The green cloth pictured below was knit out of yarn taken from an absolutely hideous old Bloomingdales sweater.



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


2) Choose a needle size.

When knitting an embossed pattern, the design will "pop" better with a tighter knit. Hence, I suggest using a size of knitting needle that is a bit smaller than the manufacturer's recommendation for your yarn. For example, when I use Bernat Handicrafter yarn I use a 4mm (US 6, UK 8) needle rather than the recommended 4.5mm (US/UK 7).



(Click the pic to view it larger.
These blank cloths were knit with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Cherry Swirl on 4mm needles.)


3) Determine your gauge.

Not only do you need to know how many stitches per inch will result when working with your yarn and needles, you also need to find out how many rows you have to knit to make a square finished product (don't forget to include borders). The border of the cloth is worked in garter stitch (knitting every row) and the flat center section is worked in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row). The border serves a practical purpose as well as a decorative one; without a border of some kind providing stability, stockinette stitch tends to curl around the edges.




(Click on the pics to view them larger.)


Both the above-pictured cloths are 50 stitches wide, but the pink one is 77 stitches high on 4mm (US 6, UK 8) knitting needles, while the green one is 83 stitches high on 3.25mm (US 3, UK 10) knitting needles. Both are square, or as square as a knit item can be before blocking.

As a starting point, I have found that a width:height ratio in many yarns is about 2:3. To be sure that your first embossed cloth is as square as you can make it, I would suggest knitting an entire blank cloth with any new yarn before moving on to an embossed cloth in the same yarn. The blank cloths are quite nice in their own right, so it's never a waste of time.

The pattern that I used for a blank cloth is as follows:


Simple ("Blank" / "Non-Embossed") Cloth Pattern



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


In the above-graphed pattern, as in all the graphed patterns in this tutorial, black squares are knit while white squares are purled. A text pattern based on this graph would read as follows:

- Materials: one 50g (1.75oz) ball of Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton yarn in a solid colour or one-and-a-quarter 42g (1.5oz) ball of Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton yarn in "ombres" (variegated), 4mm (US 6, UK 8) knitting needles
- Cast on 50 stitches
- Knit 9 rows
- *K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Knit 1 row**
- repeat from * to ** 29 times
- K5, P40, K5
- Knit 9 rows
- Cast off all stitches
- Weave in ends



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


4) Lay out your basic grid.

You can do this on graph paper, or in a table in a document program, or in your favorite graphic design program. I like to use PC Stitch, which was intended to be used to design cross-stitch patterns but I find is very useful for knitting patterns as well. Whatever is the easiest way for you to work on a visual representation of a pattern is dandy.

The above basic grid is the one I use for anything worked in Bernat Handicrafter yarn. It is 50 stitches wide by 77 stitches high, with a 5-stitch border on the sides and a 9-stitch border at the top and bottom.



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


5) Add your graphic design.

You can use just about any single-colour design, although the simpler the shape, the more likely it is to show up clearly. Text is possible but, as I have learned, it is very hard to make it legible. If you do decide to work with text, I would recommend keeping the words short and the font bold.

When you're working on designing your graphic, keep in mind that what looks like a rectangular pattern will actually end up being a square, so the graphic should appear stretched out vertically on the pattern. Also, remember that your design will be reversed on the back side of the cloth but will still be in full view, so make sure that the design looks good in a mirror image. (Text will only be readable from one side.)



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


6) Reverse every second line.

If you're working with a pencil and paper, this is where a good eraser comes in. Keeping the borders intact, reverse the knit/purl of every second row of your pattern. The reason for this is that you will be flipping your fabric back-to-front when you work on every second row.



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


7) Read the pattern left to right, then right to left, then left to right, and so on.

With palindrome patterns like this heart, you can skip this step because the pattern will read exactly the same from either side. However, if you are working with a pattern that is not the same on both sides, like text or florals, this step is necessary.

Basically, once you are done the border rows, you must read the pattern as row 1 = left to right, row 2 = right to left, and so on. The reason for this is that when knitting you will be working from the front of the cloth, then on the next row turning the piece so that you'll be working from the back, then turning it on the next row... You get the idea.

You will also be reading the pattern from bottom to top.


8) Transcribe your pattern.

If you are designing the pattern only for personal use, then you may be fine with just using the chart from Step 7. However, if you plan on sharing your design, the majority of people in my experience will need a written chart. Starting at the bottom of the pattern, number each row and write down the number of knit and purl stitches in order.


9) Knit your cloth, and then block it.

Once I have knit a cloth, I very rarely block it if I intend to keep it for personal use. To me, a cloth should stand up to being thrown in the washing machine and dryer with everything else; it doesn't seem very practical to me to use a cloth to scrub my pots and pans if I have to treat it specially afterwards. However, if I am going to give the cloth as a gift, I like to have them looking just right when they are taken out of the wrapping.

First of all, many brands of cotton yarn will leak dye the first time they are washed, so I would suggest running your cloths through the washing machine (to remove the excess dye) and the dryer (to shrink them as much as possible) before giving them as gifts. This may lead to the cloths looking a little less than pristine but it's better than having an entire load of laundry ruined the first time they use them! Trust me, your friends will thank you.

To block your cloths, soak them in room-temperature water until they are totally saturated. Squeeze (but don't twist/wring) out as much water as possible, and then roll them in a dry dish towel and squeeze (but once again don't twist/wring) the towel. Stretch the cloths in every direction to get the wrinkles and creases out, and then lay each one on a dry dishtowel. Shape each cloth into a square on the towel, and then leave them to air dry. The cloths should remain square until they are next washed.

If this blocking technique sounds familiar and it's not because you've blocked a thousand items before, that's probably because this is essentially the same way you'd remove stains and creases from embroidered projects. Well, except that you'd rarely run an embroidered piece through the washing machine, you'd wash it by hand in mild dish soap and lukewarm water instead.





Embossed Heart Cloth Pattern


- Materials: one 50g (1.75oz) ball of Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton yarn in a solid colour, 4mm (US 6, UK 8) knitting needles
- Cast on 50 stitches
- Rows 1 - 9: Knit
- Row 10: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 11: Knit
- Row 12: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 13: Knit
- Row 14: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 15: K24, P2, K24
- Row 16: K5, P19, K2, P19, K5
- Row 17: K23, P4, K23
- Row 18: K5, P18, K4, P18, K5
- Row 19: K22, P6, K22
- Row 20: K5, P17, K6, P17, K5
- Row 21: K22, P6, K22
- Row 22: K5, P16, K8, P16, K5
- Row 23: K21, P8, K21
- Row 24: K5, P16, K8, P16, K5
- Row 25: K20, P10, K20
- Row 26: K5, P15, K10, P15, K5
- Row 27: K19, P12, K19
- Row 28: K5, P14, K12, P14, K5
- Row 29: K18, P14, K18
- Row 30: K5, P13, K14, P13, K5
- Row 31: K17, P16, K17
- Row 32: K5, P12, K16, P12, K5
- Row 33: K16, P18, K16
- Row 34: K5, P11, K18, P11, K5
- Row 35: K15, P20, K15
- Row 36: K5, P10, K20, P10, K5
- Row 37: K14, P22, K14
- Row 38: K5, P9, K22, P9, K5
- Row 39: K13, P24, K13
- Row 40: K5, P8, K24, P8, K5
- Row 41: K12, P26, K12
- Row 42: K5, P6, K28, P6, K5
- Row 43: K11, P28, K11
- Row 44: K5, P5, K30, P5, K5
- Row 45: K10, P30, K10
- Row 46: K5, P4, K32, P4, K5
- Row 47: K9, P32, K9
- Row 48: K5, P3, K34, P3, K5
- Row 49: K8, P34, K8
- Row 50: K5, P3, K34, P3, K5
- Row 51: K8, P34, K8
- Row 52: K5, P3, K34, P3, K5
- Row 53: K8, P34, K8
- Row 54: K5, P3, K34, P3, K5
- Row 55: K9, P15, K2, P15, K9
- Row 56: K5, P4, K15, P2, K15, P4, K5
- Row 57: K10, P13, K4, P13, K10
- Row 58: K5, P5, K13, P4, K13, P5, K5
- Row 59: K11, P11, K6, P11, K11
- Row 60: K5, P7, K9, P8, K9, P7, K5
- Row 61: K13, P7, K10, P7, K13
- Row 62: K5, P10, K4, P12, K4, P10, K5
- Row 63: Knit
- Row 64: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 65: Knit
- Row 66: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 67: Knit
- Row 68: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Rows 69 - 77: Knit
- Cast off all stitches
- Weave in ends



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


"I Don't Do Dishes" Cloth Pattern


- Materials: one 50g (1.75oz) ball of Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton yarn in a solid colour, 4mm (US 6, UK 8) knitting needles
- Cast on 50 stitches
- Rows 1 - 9: Knit
- Row 10: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 11: Knit
- Row 12: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 13: Knit
- Row 14: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 15: Knit
- Row 16: K5, P3, K4, P3, K2, P1, K5, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K5, P1, K5, P3, K5
- Row 17: K8, P5, K1, P5, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, P5, K1, P2, K2, P5, K8
- Row 18: K5, P3, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P4, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P7, K2, P3, K5
- Row 19: K8, P2, K7, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K4, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K8
- Row 20: K5, P3, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P1, K5, P1, K6, P1, K5, P1, K5, P3, K5
- Row 21: K8, P5, K1, P5, K1, P6, K1, P5, K1, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K8
- Row 22: K5, P3, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P1, K2, P4, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P4, K2, P6, K5
- Row 23: K8, P5, K1, P5, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, P5, K1, P2, K2, P5, K8
- Row 24: K5, P3, K4, P3, K2, P1, K5, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K5, P1, K5, P3, K5
- Row 25: Knit
- Row 26: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 27: Knit
- Row 28: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 29: K19, P4, K4, P4, K19
- Row 30: K5, P14, K5, P3, K4, P14, K5
- Row 31: K18, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K19
- Row 32: K5, P14, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P13, K5
- Row 33: K18, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K19
- Row 34: K5, P14, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P13, K5
- Row 35: K18, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K19
- Row 36: K5, P14, K5, P3, K4, P14, K5
- Row 37: K19, P4, K4, P4, K19
- Row 38: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 39: Knit
- Row 40: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 41: Knit
- Row 42: K5, P4, K4, P4, K4, P2, K2, P2, K2, P7, K2, P7, K5
- Row 43: K12, P2, K7, P3, K1, P2, K2, P4, K3, P5, K9
- Row 44: K5, P4, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P1, K3, P7, K2, P7, K5
- Row 45: K12, P2, K7, P6, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K9
- Row 46: K5, P4, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K6, P7, K2, P7, K5
- Row 47: K12, P2, K4, P2, K1, P6, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K9
- Row 48: K5, P4, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, K3, P1, K2, P1, K2, P4, K2, P7, K5
- Row 49: K9, P8, K1, P2, K1, P2, K2, P2, K2, P4, K3, P5, K9
- Row 50: K5, P4, K4, P4, K4, P2, K2, P2, K2, P1, K2, P1, K8, P4, K5
- Row 51: Knit
- Row 52: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 53: Knit
- Row 54: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 55: K22, P6, K22
- Row 56: K5, P17, K6, P17, K5
- Row 57: K24, P2, K24
- Row 58: K5, P19, K2, P19, K5
- Row 59: K24, P2, K24
- Row 60: K5, P19, K2, P19, K5
- Row 61: K24, P2, K24
- Row 62: K5, P17, K6, P17, K5
- Row 63: K22, P6, K22
- Row 64: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 65: Knit
- Row 66: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Row 67: Knit
- Row 68: K5, P until 5 stitches from end, K5
- Rows 69 - 77: Knit
- Cast off all stitches
- Weave in ends



(Click the pic to view it larger.)


I made this white smaller version as a test out of Bernat Berella "4" acrylic afghan yarn. I think I'm going to do as many of these squares as possible to start to empty my yarn stash. I'd like to do a different design in each one, and then assemble them like you might for crocheted granny squares to make a blanket. Whether I make a lap blanket or something larger is dependant on how many squares my yarn will yield.

I have also thought about using this embossing technique to make monogrammed cloths for a wedding/housewarming/birthday/holiday gifts. One large letter would stand out a lot more clearly than a line of text, and it would make the perfect customizable gift!

Comments

( 15 comments — Discuss )
thepearproject.blogspot.com
Jul. 9th, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
I Don't Do Dishes Washcloth
I love your I don't do dishes washcloth and would be interisted in selling it on my site http://www.thepearproject.com We specialize in "artisan goods for everyday life" and I think this would be the perfect fit. Check out the site & if this is something you'd be interisted in directions for how to sell with us are in the :About Us: section of the site.
twitchyfingers.blogspot.com
Jul. 9th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
Re: I Don't Do Dishes Washcloth
This is a fantastic tute and I can't wait to try it out! I too was inspired by the Transformer washcloth and wanted to design a Pokemon one for my daughter; I've got a much better chance of achieving that now!!
dustydisaster
Jul. 9th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
I just saw your tutorial on Craft.com. Congrats!
wallmalker1
Jul. 9th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
I saw this from craftzine.com, and a little part of my wanted to cry. My brother's getting married this weekend and I knitted them a dishcloth based off a pattern I had seen with 2 intertwined wedding bands, but put their initials on it too.

I finally made it on about the 5th time, but the first 4 times I forgot to reverse the pattern, forgot to transcribe it, tried to read from the graph instead of writing a pattern, etc, etc. I'm so glad that this is out here now, and when I try to attack this kind of project again after I've forgotten the pain I went through, I'm coming back to your tutorial!
emilyjane
Jul. 9th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Here via Craft.com

Thanks for this tutorial! I just finished the Transformers cloth, and was thinking about making a blanket similar to the one you mentioned above. This tute will make the design process a whole lot easier.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 6th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Designing Dishcloths
I love your tutorial. Can you tell me what kind of graph paper to use and if it is available on line?

Thank you so much,
dawna in MS
own_two_hands
Aug. 8th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: Designing Dishcloths
I didn't use graph paper, I used a program called PC Stitch. But you can use any graph paper, even something as simple as what kids use in math class at school.
shala_beads
Aug. 6th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this tutorial. I'm really bad at knitting, but I tried it, and I'm really happy with how it turn out. Mine is a kerchief, not a dish cloth.
Added you to my friends list, I hope you don't mind!
own_two_hands
Aug. 8th, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
Cool! I so rarely get to see pictures of things based on my tutorials or patterns. It looks great!

And you're more than welcome to add me to your friends list. :)
(Anonymous)
Aug. 15th, 2008 05:04 am (UTC)
i dont do dishes cloth
i just finished my cloth after 3 tries i think it looks good.last year
i gave dishcloths as gifts one sister in law said thanks but i dont do dishes this one i framed to give to her this year. thanks for the pattern edithw39@yahoo.com
own_two_hands
Aug. 17th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Re: i dont do dishes cloth
Hey, I like that idea! It hadn't even occurred to me to frame it.
shala_beads
Aug. 31st, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
http://shala-beads.livejournal.com/233794.html
Well.. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this!
own_two_hands
Sep. 21st, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
What a great bat pattern, shala! It's too bad that I have yet to find black dishcloth yarn, because that would be the perfect colour for your pattern.
shala_beads
Sep. 21st, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
I had problems finding it locally until recently. You can also buy it directly from Pisgah Yarn. Peaches & Cream is a lot like Sugar-n-cream, and just a bit lighter then the Lion Brand Cotton. I hope that helps!
I used pink because it was at hand. Plus I love the color pink!
Thank you again!
tarzanic
Sep. 21st, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
Just came across this tutorial and it looks like it will be incredibly useful once I finish a project or two. Thanks!
( 15 comments — Discuss )