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Slip Stitch Dishtowels

These dishtowels look really complicated to make, don't they? I love that because, just like you want hard things to look easy, it's a great coup to make easy things look difficult! These three stitch patterns all come from Barbara Walker's classic Treasury of Knitting Patterns and are created by the simple technique of hiding yarns behind slipped stitches. There's no tricky stranding or two-hand knitting or even issues of tension; there's just the easy matter of slipping stitches and watching as amazing patterns emerge! Slip stitch color patterns are terrific for scarves (check out Laura's gorgeous Reversible Stripes Scarf), sweaters, blankets and even dishtowels. For these, I looked for patterns that would evoke traditional kitchen textiles: no-nonsense designs with the geometry of vintage linens. And for a yarn that would match these hard-working stitch patterns I chose Louet's Euroflax 100% linen. As tough and absorbent as any fiber around, linen is a great friend to have over your shoulder when you're cooking up something good! You can pick up all the Euroflax linen you'll need with our Yarn for Slip Stitch Dishtowels kit. Choose either this crisp and classic Indigo colorway or our Natural palette of earthy neutrals. Either way, happy slip stitching! -Whitney

The Materials

Our Yarn for Slip Stitch Dishtowels kits include 4 skeins of Louet's Euroflax, 100% linen. (This is enough yarn to make these three dishtowels plus one more.) Choose from two colorways:

  • Indigo: 2 skeins of Cream, 1 skein of Caribbean Blue and 1 skein of Navy

  • Natural: 2 skeins of Cream, 1 skein of Natural and 1 skein of Pewter

You will also need...

The Patterns

Gauge

23 stitches = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Finished Size

11 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches

Pattern Notes

- For the Indigo dishtowels

  • COLOR A: Cream
  • COLOR B: Caribbean Blue
  • COLOR C: Navy

- For the Natural dishtowels

  • COLOR A: Cream
  • COLOR B: Natural
  • COLOR C: Pewter

- Slip all stitches purlwise. - When changing colors, carry the new yarn up the selvedge in front of the old yarn. In this photo the Navy yarn is the "new yarn" about to knit the first stitch.

Three-and-One Tweed Pattern

With Color A, cast on 75 stitches. Row 1 (wrong side): Purl. Row 2 (right side): With Color C, k3, *slip 1 with yarn in back (wyib), k3, repeat from * to end of row. Row 3: With Color C, slip 1 wyib, k2, *slip 1 with yarn in front (wyif), k3, repeat from * to end of row. Row 4: With Color A, k1, *slip 1 wyib, k3, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, slip 1 wyib, k1. Row 5: With Color A, slip 1 wyib, *slip 1 wyif, k3, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, slip 1 wyif, k1. Repeat Rows 2 - 5 until piece measures 17 inches, ending with a Row 3. Cut Color C. Next Row (right side): With Color A, knit to last 2 stitches, k2 onto a double pointed needle.

Finishing

With the right side facing you, work an I-cord on those last 2 stitches until the cord measures 3 inches from its base. Work the last row as a k1, slip 1 wyib, yo. Now starting at the base of the 3-inch I-cord, work an Attached I-cord down the left selvage. Pick up 1 stitch for every 4 rows (which means picking up 1 stitch at either every Color A or every Color C stripe) until you reach the bottom corner. Pass the first stitch over the second, cut the yarn and pull it through the remaining stitch. Now, with Color A, cast 2 stitches onto a double pointed needle. K1, slip 1 wyib, yo and with right side facing, pick up a stitch in the bottom right corner. Work an Attached I-cord up the right selvage to the top corner. Knit 1 row of a regular, unattached I-cord, then pass the first stitch over the second so that 1 stitch remains. Using the double pointed needle with 1 stitch on it, knit the first stitch that is on the circular needle and bind off. Continue to bind off all the stitches that remain on the circular needle. Cut the yarn and pass it through the remaining stitch. Weave in the ends and block your new dishtowel!

Basket Stitch

With Color B, cast on 71 stitches. Row 1 (wrong side): Purl. Row 2 (right side): With Color A, k3, *slip 1 with yarn in back (wyib), k3, repeat from * to end of row. Row 3: With Color A, slip 1 wyib, k2, *slip 1 with yarn in front (wyif), k3, repeat from * to end of row. Rows 4 and 5: Repeat Rows 2 and 3. Row 6: With Color B, knit. Row 7: With Color B, slip 1 wyib, purl. Repeat Rows 2 - 7 until piece measures 17 inches, ending with a Row 5. Cut Color A. Next Row (right side): With Color B, knit to last 2 stitches, k2 onto a double pointed needle.

Finishing

Using Color B, follow the finishing instructions as for the Three-and-One Tweed, above; except, for this stitch pattern, pick up 2 stitches for every 6 rows (which means picking up 2 stitches at the Color A stripes and skipping the Color B stripes).

Triple L Tweed

With Color C, cast on 76 stitches. Row 1 (wrong side): Purl. Row 2 (right side): With Color B, k3, *slip 1 with yarn in back (wyib), k2, repeat from * to last stitch, k1. Row 3: With Color B, slip 1 wyib, k2, *slip 1 with yarn in front (wyif), k2, repeat from * to last stitch, k1. Row 4: With Color A, *k2, slip 1 wyib, repeat from * to last stitch, k1. Row 5: With Color A, slip 1 wyib, *slip 1 wyif, k2, repeat from * to end of row. Row 6: With Color C, k1, *slip 1 wyib, k2, repeat from * to end of row. Row 7: With Color C, slip 1 wyib, k1, *slip 1 wyif, k2, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, slip 1 wyif, k1. Repeat Rows 2 - 7 until piece measures 17 inches, ending with a Row 5. Cut Colors A and B. Next Row (right side): With Color C, knit to last 2 stitches, k2 onto a double pointed needle.

Finishing

Using Color C, follow the finishing instructions as for the Three-and-One Tweed, above. Pick up 1 stitch for every 4 rows (which means picking up 1 stitch at every other stripe of color).

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41 Responses to Slip Stitch Dishtowels


  1. Laura says:

    These dish towels are great! I actually just started a dish towel project that also uses a slipped stitch pattern, but it doesn't have a fun edge or loop to hang from like yours. I love it, and I'm definitely going to add it to my project. And then when the ones I'm making now wear out, I'll have to try these patterns :)

  2. Kitty Martin says:

    Will the finished dish towels go in the dryer, or should they be line dried?

  3. Laura says:

    Love these dishtowels and can't wait to knit them! What a fun summer project.

  4. Alessandra says:

    thank you!!!!
    they are so beautiful!!!!
    xxxx Ale

  5. purl bee says:

    Hi Kitty,

    You can put Euroflax in the washer AND dryer. If you do, it just get softer and softer!

    Thanks for asking!
    Whitney

  6. Ashley says:

    I'm a new knitter … when you say slip one, should I slip it knitwise or purlwise? Thanks for the advice and the great pattern!

  7. Zi says:

    These look pretty, but I am a foreigner and do not understand what they would be used for? They seem too small for drying dishes. What does a dishtowel do?

  8. Tracy says:

    You've inspired me today. So happy!

  9. Jane says:

    These are stunning! I love how you help demystify stitches and are so encouraging to try something new.

    Would the Blue Sky skinny cotton also work for this?

    Thanks!

  10. Carol Boumbouras says:

    I design my own face/dish towels but I was not aware of how to do the attached I-cord. I just used a crochet chain. The I-cord is much more sophisticated and really looks SUPER!! Thank you.
    Carol

  11. Rebecca says:

    How wonderfully Scandawegian!

  12. Shell says:

    Ashley – always slip as if to purl! If you slip as if to knit, the stitch will get twisted. Sometimes patterns will specify this for a decorative look, but if it doesn't say slip as if to knit, always assume purl :)

  13. Becky says:

    I love these! My grandmother had a jacket with one of these patterns on it (the navy and white one). I'm going to frog an old linen scarf of hers and whip up a towel in that pattern. I'll think of her every time I use it! Thank you!

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Ashley,

    Yes, Shell is right (thanks, Shell!), you do generally assume that slip stitches are purlwise unless otherwise specified. In this case, the Pattern Notes section also reminds people to slip purlwise!

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

    Whitney

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Jane,

    Sure, Blue Sky's Skinny Cotton would be lovely! It's a bit thicker and the skeins are shorter so you'll probably have to adjust your needle size and the number of skeins you buy.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for this one!

    Whitney

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Zi,

    Good question! Dishtowels are an all-purpose kitchen linen. They're great for drying dishes and hands, for wiping up (non-staining!) spills and even for lifting off a hot lid every now and then.

    Thanks for asking!
    Whitney

  17. Nicole says:

    Hi, I have some of the blue sky alpaca worsted cotton yarn that I purchased from your store. Would it be suitable for this project instead of the euro flax linen?

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Yes, you can make these dishtowels out of Blue Sky's Worsted Cotton (in fact, we've made Worsted Cotton dishtowels before! http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2009/10/3/pages-soft-cotton-knit-dishtowels.html ) In this case though, you'll probably want to cast on fewer stitches since the cotton is so much thicker than the Euroflax Linen (unless you want very wide dishtowels).

    I would suggest making gauge swatches in each stitch pattern and then casting on, for the Three-and-One Tweed and the Basket Stitch, a multiple of 4 plus 3; and for the Triple L Tweed, a multiple of 3 plus 1.

    Please let me know if you have any questions along the way and thanks for this one!

    Whitney

  19. Cat says:

    Hi,
    I am super keen to make a set of these lovely dishtowels, but I'm very confused as to the nature of beginning slip stitch color work. When it says to cast on with color A, do I do completely nothing with color C and then somehow begin using it when called for?
    I just can't seem to find any information on how to do this, and I'd love some help!
    Thanks,
    Cat

  20. Nicole says:

    Thanks Whitney, I'd love to take a look at the Worsted Cotton dishtowels, however the link doesn't seem to be working… Also, this may be a beginners question but when you say a multiple of 4 plus 3 that could mean, for example, 36st + 3st = 39 stitches in total, right?

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Nicole-

    The link has been fixed. Sorry about that! And here it is again, just so you don't have to scroll up: http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2009/10/3/pages-soft-cotton-knit-dishtowels.html

    You are correct in your math. It is any multiple of 4 plus an additional 3 stitches.

    Thank you and please let us know if you have any more questions!

    Molly

  22. Diane says:

    Love, love, love these patterns! I'm working on the Triple L Tweed – so easy and fun, with amazing results! The only thing I'm struggling with – I've never worked with multiple colors like this – any advice for managing the 3 balls of yarn? Every time I change colors it takes me a while to sort things out.

    Thanks for these wonderful patterns and a simple way to do some colorwork!

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Cat,

    Yes, for the Three-and-One Tweed, for example, you do just cast on with Color A and bring in Color C at the beginning of Row 2. So, for the cast on and Row 1, use only Color A, then with the first stitch of Row 2, introduce Color C (leaving Color A idle until you use it again for Rows 4 and 5, at which point Color C will be left idle).

    I hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for this one!

    Whitney

  24. purl bee says:

    HI Diane,

    It's true that the balls get twisted together as you work. Luckily, you shouldn't have actual tangling, so what I do is let the balls twist for about 12 rows. Then I sort them out, and get ready for the next 12 rows!

    Thank you for your question and good luck with the rest of your dishtowel!

    Whitney

  25. Loved this project, thanks Purl Bee! I used the cream/natural/pewter colors (although it was a tough call, I love the blues, too!) You can see them here: http://blueberryhillcrafting.com/2013/07/14/slip-stitch-dish-towels/

  26. Marthat says:

    Hi. I'm a fairly new knitter and I'm a little confused when it comes to the attached iCord. Why pick up 2 out of every 6 stitches (I'm doing the basketweave)? I'm doing that and my edge is starting to curl up. Otherwise, loving the pattern. It looks much more complicated than it is. Thanks!

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Marthat,

    The reason you pick up stitches at that rate is because the stitch gauge of the I-cord is different from the row gauge of the Basket Stitch. If your edge is curling, you may not have gotten exactly the right gauge in your Basket Stitch, so the ratio of I-Cord stitches to row numbers is different.

    Technically, to remedy this situation, you could measure the row gauge of your dishtowel, then measure the stitch gauge of your Attached I-cord and figure out how many I-cord stitches to pick up per inch of Basket Stitch selvage. HOWEVER, it might just be a whole lot easier to try picking up 3 stitches per 6 rows and see if that alleviates the curling!

    Thanks for your question and please let us know if you have more. Good luck!

    Whitney

  28. shirley44 says:

    Hi, I love these patterns and want to try dish clothes instead of towels. I would just use dish cloth cotton and I'm thinking this would be a good way to learn the patterns.

  29. Mariko says:

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this lovely project! I am a new knitter and so excited working on the basket stitch one. When you say "cut color A" after ending with a Row 5, should I bind off on Row 5? Or should I just cut the yarn and introduce color B on the next row?

    Thank you so much!

  30. purl bee says:

    Hi Mariko,

    When we say to "cut" a color, we mean to just cut it (leaving a long enough tail that you can weave it in later) and then start with a new yarn. There's no binding off involved!

    Thanks for asking and good luck with your dishtowels! Please let us know if you have any more questions!

    Whitney

  31. Juleann says:

    I am having a heck of a time with the attached I-cord. Following the tutorial instructions I am not incorporating a YO, since I knit into a stitch the same color as the I-cord. When I do add a YO it is Very Difficult to get the needle under it & and the slipped stitch to passover. Problem #1.

    Problem #2 — the attached I-cord is very tight, not curling exactly, just tight & no "give". I picked up a little more frequently than every 4 rows — perhaps I should go up a needle size?

    The knitting part looks lovely but the finishing leaves something to be desired. Any suggestions?

  32. purl bee says:

    Hi Juleann,

    It's fine to knit the attached I-cord without the yarn over, so if you're have trouble with passing the yo and slipped stitch over, I agree with you, just don't do it!

    Problem #2: It's true that I-cords do not tend to stretch or "give". If the gauge of your dishtowel is not exactly the same as the pattern's, then you may end up with an edge that is too taut. To fix that, you should do what you are doing (pick up stitches more frequently) and/or go up a needle size.

    Technically, you want the stitch gauge of your attached I-cord to be equal to the row gauge of the dishtowel along the edges, and the stitch gauge of the dishtowel along the top and bottom. This can get pretty complicated for some people, but through a little trial and error, you should be able to get just the right tension on your I-cord.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions and thank you so much for these!

    Whitney

  33. Heather says:

    How many yards is one skein? Thanks! My mother made two of these for me & they are stunning! I'd like to make a set as a wedding gift.

  34. purl bee says:

    Hi Heather-

    All of the info on this yarn can be found here: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/380-Louet-Euroflax-Originals
    Each of these skeins is 270 yards long.

    Thank you for your question!

    Molly

  35. Erin says:

    The link to your attached I-cord tutorial is broken. Any chance you can repost it or send a link to one you recommend for this project? I am having difficulty seeing what I'm supposed to do here.

  36. purl bee says:

    Hi Erin-

    Thanks for catching that! The link has been fixed. And here is a direct link to the Attached I-Cord Tutorial: http://www.purlbee.com/knitting-tutorials-advanced-te/2008/1/23/attached-i-cord-tutorial.html

    Than you!

    Molly

  37. leslie says:

    I am a brand new knitter- I only know how to knit and purl. However, I would love to make these as a wedding gift for my friend who is a chef. Are there any video tutorials on these patterns? Or, is it just too complicated to be a first pattern for a beginner? I haven't even worked with 2 colors yet. But, I do have a few months and was hoping I could learn some how.

    Are you planning on getting any other colors in the same yarn?

    btw, I love your site. It has gotten me excited about knitting and all of my projects on my list are from your site.

  38. purl bee says:

    Hi Leslie,

    I never discourage beginner knitters to give new things a try! Since all knitting is just knits and purls, you are already equipped with the basic knowledge to do anything. Having said that, this would be a challenging project for a very new knitter, so I'd suggest casting on for just a small swatch of one of the stitch patterns. Practice with that until you get the hang of it and then cast on for the real thing!

    Thanks for your question and please let us know if you have any more!

    Whitney

  39. Katie says:

    On row 7 of the Basket Stitch it says to slip 1 wyib and then purl. Do you do this pattern across the row or is it slip one and purl the remaining stitches?

    Thanks!

  40. purl bee says:

    Hi Katie,

    You just slip the first stitch and then purl the rest!

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

    Whitney

  41. Virginia Mendoza says:

    Gracias por compartir estoy aprendiendo a tejer punto, me gustan nuevos patrones. gracias por compartir

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