Saturday, December 31, 2011

Potholder Palooza!

Wow, are holidays bad for getting blog posts up!  Sorry about that. I did spend the holidays creating though, so more patterns will be forthcoming very soon.  I may even put up a few extra posts a week to make up for my lag, assuming I remember.  

Anywho, as you may have noticed from the title of this post, I've switched gears a bit.  Wearables are being set aside in favor of some useful household tools.  In this case, it's potholders. 

The most obvious question is, why potholders?  There are tons of patterns out there for potholders and trivets because, lets face it, they're usually squares or circles and it takes next to no thought to make a circle or a square.  There are, of course, exceptions that can be found where someone got super creative and made an awesome trivet or potholder.  Those do tend to be thin on the ground, though.  The real answer is, my mom needed new potholders and I needed stocking stuffers (hence this being posted now.  I couldn't very well put up a post about mom's presents before she got them.  That would have been silly.).  Which brings up the second question, why not just go buy some?  The answer there is also pretty simple.  Store bought potholders suck.  They are way too thin, tend to be made from really cheap fabric, and don't hold up well to the standard abuse kitchen things get.   Mom and I are pretty rough of kitchen linens, they get changed out and washed often in the hottest water we can manage and usually get bleached as well.  Tea towels and potholders just don't stand up to that well for long anymore, but kitchen cleanliness is important enough that we aren't just going to stop washing them in the most sanitary manner possible. 

Once I started thinking potholders I needed to know what is expected from a potholder so that I could make one with all the necessary characteristics.  That process always makes me laugh.  I feel so ridiculous thinking "what do I expect from a potholder?" and "what should my potholder be able to do?" that I just start giggling.  I mean seriously, it's just a potholder. Still, if it doesn't do everything it's supposed to, what's the point?

My potholders need to be able to do a few things.  Primarily they need to be sturdy enough to stand up to kitchen abuse while maintaining their ability to protect hands and counters.  It's a plus if they look nice. Whether or not a potholder is pretty has no bearing on how well it does it's job, it's an extra in case you have to use it in front of people or accidentally leave it out.  The other two are the important part.  If the pot holder is going to protect anything it needs to be thick enough to do so.  I hate it when you get stuck holding a cookie sheet longer than you expected because you've eagerly removed the tray from the oven and realized you have no where to put the thing.  Then the heat starts coming through the oven mitt or potholder you're holding it with and your choices quickly become drop the tray, and everything on it, or stuff it back into the oven, which is still warm, and possibly overcook whatever you're making.  Anything that you use that way should be insulated enough for that not to happen.  Washable for me and mom means the potholder in question needs to be able to stand up to some pretty harsh washing conditions.  Super hot water and bleach on a weekly basis will tear up a bunch of stuff so it's got to be able to withstand that or it's useless.  At this point I know what I'm making; a super thick, ultra sturdy uber pot holder.  Now I have to decide how to make it.

Crochet gives more insulation than knitting, so I used crochet.  Using two strands of yarn together gives more insulation so I did that too.  I had to use a natural fiber type for the yarn because synthetics can melt if they get hot enough and I'm too lazy to test the yarn at varying temps to see what happens.  Who wants to make something that might melt?  Of the natural fibers, bamboo and silk are too expensive for something like this which leaves wools and cotton.  We wash kitchen things in super hot water so wool would be a bad plan, it felts and shrinks too easily, so cotton it is.  The cheapest and most easily available cotton yarns are Sugar 'n Cream and Peaches 'n Cream (the sort of knock off brand).  Happily, they come in lots of nice colors so they should work just fine.

The only thing left is to actually make the bloody things.

A quick note here, and I'll repeat this on all my pot holder patterns, if you save the left over yarn from this project you can use it for scrubbies (coming soon) later.  Trust me, you'll like them (they're awesome!).

Right, all the random rambling over and done with.  On to the pattern!

 Lyssa's Super Potholder Set

2  balls Sugar n Cream in blue
2 balls Sugar n Cream in green
I hook

Gauge: In pattern 5 st =2 inches (5 cm)

This pattern will make either 2 super thick pot holders plus 1 regular pot holder OR 5 regular pot holders. 

Potholder base size 1, make 1 in each color
Holding two strands together throughout, ch 22.
Row 1: In third chain from hook work 1 sc.  Work (Dc, sc) across work ending on a dc.  Ch 1, turn.
Row 2: Work (dc, sc) across ending on a sc.  Ch 2, turn.
Row 3: Work (sc, dc) across ending on a dc.  Ch 1, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until piece measures about 8 inches (20 cm), bind off.

Hold the two pieces together and work a sc border around the entire piece using 3 sc in each corner. (Skip this step if you want 5 pot holders)

Potholder base size 2, make 1 in each color
Holding 2 strands together throughout, ch 24
Work as for base size 1, including joining step.

Measures about 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (22x22 cm)

Striped potholder
Holding 2 strands together throughout, ch 22.
Work as for the other sizes, changing colors every 4 rows.
This piece does not have a border, I ran out of yarn before I could edge it.
Measures the same as the base size 1 potholder.

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