Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels

There's something so beautiful about a soft, well-used vintage dishtowel.  I often find myself marveling at all of their wonderful neutral shades.  Some are a warm cream, others have honey tones and some stone grey.  I especially love their red details and stripes which range from bright tomato red to rich red wine.  My vintage towels were the inspiration for these Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels which make drying the dishes feel like a luxurious treat.   Enjoy --Page


I used one neutral color for each towel. 1 skein of any neutral below is more than enough for one dishtowel (2 skeins will make 3 towels).  One skein of each red below is enough for approximately 5 dishtowels if you are only doing stripe details with them.


  • 3.5 stitches per inch


Finished Measurements

Approximately 9-inches x 16-inches


The three dishcloths pictured above are Multi-Stripe Dishcloth (left), Twin-Stripe Dishcloth (center bottom) and Edge-Stripe Dishcloth (top right).

 Multi-stripe Dishcloth

Cast on 56 stitches in one of the neutrals (I used Organic Cotton #81, Sand).

Knit 18 rows in garter stitch (or 9 ridges, as shown above). Do not break yarn.

Pick up one of the reds and knit one row (I started with #629, Ladybug), do not break yarn.

Pick up the second red and knit one row (I used #619, Tomato), do not break yarn.

Pick up the neutral yarn (still attached) and knit one row.

Keep knitting one row each of the reds and the neutral until you achieve the desired width of striping (mine is approximately 3 1/4-inches wide).

Cut ends of both red yarns and continue to knit in garter stitch with the neutral for 18 rows (9 ridges).

Bind off on the same side that you cast on.

Sew in ends and block.

Twin Stripe Dishcloth

Cast on 56 stitches with one of the neutrals (I used #614, Drift).

Knit 20 rows in garter stitch (10 ridges), do not break yarn.

*Pick up one of the reds (I used #619, Tomato) knit 2 rows, do not break yarn.

Pick up neutral, knit 2 rows, do not break yarn.

Knit 2 rows red, break yarn.**

Continue knitting all rows with the neutral for 12 rows (6 ridges).

Pick up red and repeat from * to **.

Continue knitting all rows with the neutral for 20 rows (10 ridges).

Bind off.

Sew in ends and block.

Edge-Stripe Dishtowel

With red (I used #629, Ladybug), cast on 56 stitches

Knit 2 rows, break yarn.

Pick up neutral (I used #80, Bone) and knit approximately 8-inches, ending with a RS row, break yarn.

Pick up red, knit 2 rows.

Bind off with red yarn.

Sew in ends and block.

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14 Responses to Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels

  1. Donna says:

    Very nice!!!! I can see these as Xmas gifts. Will they hold up to machine washing? I did not notice the washing instructions on the yarn web site.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. colleen says:

    these are definitely on my christmas list. but, can you tell me what the 3 neutral colors are from top left to bottom right? i think drift is the greyish one, but i’m not sure! thanks so much, page.

  3. emily powers says:

    i featured your post on my blog today:

    absolutely lovely!!!

  4. Marisa@make*happy says:

    LOVE this idea. I’ll be making some for gifts, and some for myself as well! Linked to this on my blog. Thanks!

  5. hahnsmum says:

    l love the look of these dishcloths..Been making facecloths & wash cloths for a few mths..So always on lookout for new patterns..ESPECIALLY like these..

  6. Rhonda says:

    I love these – but am wondering how you deal with the issue of the reds running into the lighter colors when washed….

  7. polly says:

    I would like to make a set of these for my sister.Could they be done with needles or a regular circular needle?Thank you.

  8. Kelly says:

    lovely. just curious how well do they work as dish towels? thanks

  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Kelly-

    The work wonderfully! We are big fans of knit dishtowels and washcloths around here. You can check out our home projects gallery if you'd like to see more patterns like this!

    Thank you!


  10. M.E. Brogdon says:

    Love these – great patterns! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Asmira says:

    What size needles would I use for this project?

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Asmira-

    The needles are listed in the materials list, a US size 9.

    Thank you for your question!


  13. Maureen says:

    This is probably a beginner question, but when you pick up the red do you just start knitting it in? Or do you fasten/tie it to the neutral?

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Maureen,

    In knitting, when you start either a new color or a new ball of yarn, you always begin using the new yarn by simply knitting the first stitch with it. Make sure you always leave at least an 8-inch tail, which you will weave into the work at the end (Here's our Weaving in Your Ends Tutorial: )

    You almost never tie a knot in knitting because it tends to unravel and also because it leaves a bulky nub!

    Thanks so much for asking and please let us know if you have any more questions!


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