Saturday, March 20, 2010

Garterlac Dishcloth

I love having handmade cotton dishcloths in my kitchen. Unfortunately there is also someone in my house that leaves them in the bottom of the sink. What happens to them there does not leave a particularly pleasing scent. So after boiling the living heck out of them every week or so, and using them for every cleaning activity possible within the kitchen, eventually they wear out!

This means I get to knit more. My usual pattern is the very first knitting pattern I ever made. My grandma and mother taught me to knit using a bias-dishcloth pattern that is ridiculously easy. And it creates a particularly attractive little square. It's a two-fer! I've gone on from there and very much enjoyed making round dishcloths, and the Ball-Band Dishcloth (from Mason-Dixon Knitting). I've even gone so far as to machine knit a dishcloth (I never mentioned, but in the end the gauge wasn't quite tight enough on that to stand up to much use).

Lately, I have been playing with Criminy Jickets' Garterlac Dishcloth. This is a popular pattern on Ravelry (over 1,000 projects!) and it's quite a bit of fun, too. It's also a great way to introduce someone to entrelac.

Entrelac is a method of using short rows of knitting to produce a cloth that appears to be woven even though it is knit of one piece. Typically it is worked in stockinette, but the garter-stitch works here to make a better dishcloth.

I liked the opportunity to practice entrelac, and a technique that anyone doing lots of short rows should know... knitting backwards. Normally you knit from the left needle, creating loops onto your right needle, but it's not that much of a stretch to reverse the process and work loops from the right onto the left. This saves you the annoyance of turning your work over every eight stitches (or less). It is also really useful for colorwork in the flat, but that's a different post.

The one thing I didn't like about this dishcloth was that it required a cast-on edge. Because of the way the side and top triangles are knit, any sort of cast-on is going to look different from the other three sides. I started the pattern as-written and quickly ripped that back out. I also read the blog carefully and debated the "no cast on" option (which really is a "provisional cast on" option where you pull out your cast on and knit what would have been the cast-on triangles as if they were cast-off triangles). None of this really felt elegant to me.

My option is to treat the "cast on" edge as if it were an increasing triangle. You don't need any cast on at all. You do need one slip-knot in which to begin knitting (or a backwards loop or whatever floats your boat).

Cast On one stitch

Increasing Base Triangle
K 1, turn, K-FB, turn.
K 2, turn, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 3, turn, K 1, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 4, turn, K 2, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 5, turn, K 3, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 6, turn, K 4, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 7, turn, K 5, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 8, turn,
K 6, K-FB, K 1, return last stitch to your other needle and treat as first stitch of the next triangle

Repeat for two more triangles. On the last triangle, do not increase in the last row (end with 8 stitches). Begin regular instructions at "increasing side triangle".


Anonymous said...

Awesome! I'm so making this. Can't wait to try your cast-on mod.

Edna said...

I made my first one according to the directions but I am going to do another using your method of starting. Sounds like it will be much more to my liking.

Anonymous said...

I confess, someone pointed me to this post and all I could think was, "but isn't that how *everyone* does entrelac? I don't think I ever realized you were "supposed" to cast on anything! Thank you for providing proof that I"m not crazy - or at least that I'm not operating in a vacuum :)

Anonymous said...

For the person with the smeey dishcloth; If your dishclothes are made with cotton yarn, they can be bleached. I use a little bleach in the dishwater,. This also keeps them with bright colors longer.ydarket hermsont

PammiFab said...

thank you for the tips and the pattern. I'm going to give this a try!

Unknown said...

This method is much more elegant. Thank you for sharing it!

I have one question though: when I finish the second triangle, it ends up on the opposite needle. I presume both the first and second triangles should end up on the same needle, as I prepare to work on the third one. I tried 4 times now and still end up with two triangles, one on each needle.

Is this correct?

Anonymous said...

I am having the same problem. Two triangles on two needles. They should be on the same needle - right. What am I doing wrong. I am not able to make the third triangle. This so far is very elegant and a very nice looking beginning.
HELP HELP HELP Carleen Gryczko

Email address is

TinkerTots said...

A fellow Raveler and I puzzled over this and we finally found the hiccup. She was kind enough to work up an additional blog post on the method, complete with pictures!

Please feel free to pop over to her blog here: