I grew up in and still live in Northern California. My mom always used sponges and scrubbies for washing the dishes. I hated them because they always seemed slimy and stank if they had a bacterial overload. As a kid I hated touching a sponge!
When I moved away from home I got the plastic long handled brushes to use. I didn't really encounter a knitted dishcloth until I started knitting. I made a few and DH (originally from Vermont) said, "What are these for?" I told him, and he looked skeptical, but I notice they are getting used!
I would make more, but knitting with cotton seems tough on my wrists. I'm sure I'll still do a few from time to time, though.