My mother's birthday is today, and I have just completed three dishcloths in blues to match her new kitchen. The pattern is from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book, and many, many examples can be found on their website, or at the Knit-Along.
These dishcloths have proven to be prolific, and addicting. I didn't think I would enjoy them as much as I did, and I am not the first to say that. Some reasons why I think this pattern is obsessing knitters everywhere:
1) It is a fast. I am not the fastest knitter, but I have finished three between Thursday and Sunday. That is fast.
2) As patterns go, this one uses several techniques to keep it interesting: Both knit and purl, the slipped stitch, carrying colors up the side or weaving them in, adding new colors... But the pattern is simple enough to memorize, and easy enough to keep the hands busy while TV watching.
3) The pattern uses at least two colors in a simple way that is not so scary as Intarsia or Fair Isle. Variations are endless, and the pattern is small enough to urge the creatively timid into experimentation. The yarn called for in the pattern is apparently widely available (except for here), cheap, and in a multitude of colors.
4) Handknitting a small household item is so mundane. It allows us to use handknits. It allows us to be excused from fiber-snobbery or the challenge of complex patterns. It opens the possibilities of making handknit tools and mundane household items, reminding us that our work can surround us in more ways than clothing.
I hope she likes them, and I hope she uses them. This simple, fast, cheap to knit item is a daily reminder of a knitters craft, and a knitters love.