Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Crochet: Old Fashioned Potholders



If you're looking for a last-minute homemade holiday gift for someone who likes to cook, how about some potholders? I grew up with potholders like this - they'd been crocheted for years by various women in my mother's family. I think some of the potholders we used (and possibly some of the ones I still use) may have even been made by my great-grandmother. The older potholders are typically yellow and white or red and white, but once my sister and I started making them we naturally gravitated to all kinds of colors and even those garish variegated threads.

I made the pair above for Bob two Christmases ago and they pretty much follow the pattern of their predecessors - a dark center with a good-sized white middle enclosed by a dark border. I was running out of blue so I introduced a third color in the one on the right, but that's probably as heretical as using variegated thread :) The older ones in my possession have the remnants of little picots at each corner of the border, but I never figured out how to do those and frankly was never inclined - it's a potholder after all!

I think I learned to crochet by making these potholders. It was either my mother or Auntie Bee that showed me how, though it's not a pattern that's written down (until now) or memorized. I don't know about the earlier potholder-makers in my family, but I can't make one without having a completed one to look at. I've never felt that I made the middles quite right, since I always end up with a little larger (often lopsided) hole in the middle, but I think these instructions will set you in the right direction and then you can refine them to your liking. Switch colors as you like - it's your potholder!

I'll apologize in advance about this pattern - I'm not well acquainted with crochet patterns, so this may not be very clear. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!

The potholder is made of two identical pieces (though the color patterns need not be the same) that are joined by one more round that is worked through both pieces. I use a size 7 steel crochet hook with regular (size 10) cotton crochet thread.

Chain 7 (or less - I was just thinking that maybe there's a sneaky way to do this on just a loop of thread so you could pull it tight and close up that little hole in the middle) and join to form a loop.

I usually join each round by pulling a loop through and then chaining two.

Round 1 - work 10 single crochet (sc) in the loop and join.

Round 2 - work 2 double crochet (dc) in each sc (20 dc total) and join.

Round 3 - work 2 dc in each dc (actually it's really in the spaces between the dc) (40 dc total) and join.

Round 4 - in this round you establish the "corners" of the potholder where all the remaining increases will occur. Work 4 dc in the space between the first two pairs of dc and then 2 dc in each of the next 3 spaces. Repeat this four more times and join.

Rounds 5 - 11 (you can do more or less depending on the size potholder you want) - continue in the same way as round 4, always working 4 dc at each corner and 2 dc in the spaces.

** Update 8/16/08 - I just made a couple potholders by following the pattern as I wrote it here and realized that 11 rounds is a little small. I'd recommend 12 to 13 rounds for each piece and then join with another round as described below. **

When done, join, cut the thread and pull it through. Weave cut thread ends into the wrong side of the potholder to secure them and hide them. Work the other piece of the potholder in the same way, but don't cut the thread.

To join the two pieces, put the wrong sides together and work one more round in the established pattern. For this round you'll need to work through both sides, being careful that they are lined up correctly. When done, join, pull the thread through and weave in the end.

I think these potholders improve with age - they tend to tighten up and flatten out. They're not as big or thick as some potholders, but I think they're just right!

A few years ago I was browsing in a little antique shop in Greenwich Village and found some very similar potholders for just $2.00 each! Of course I bought all three. The increases are done differently and they have six sides rather than five. I haven't attempted to figure out the pattern yet, but hope to someday. I'll close with pictures of them (they're light green and white) and of some of my older potholders (the rust and white one is one I made a few years back, but the others are much older). If I'd planned better, I would have washed them before taking the picture - sorry!



40 comments:

rowena said...

Well I am just keep quiet about any inclination to try crocheting because I know that I will never follow through -- I'm still debating on purchasing a sewing machine!

So that means that I can experience this craft through you, which by the way, looks like pretty dandy work to me! As per your previous post on What's Next? -- fantastic idea! Between that and sprucing up your blog look (another thing that I've been toying with), there should be enough to fill your days. Have a great rest of the week!

santos. said...

i love these. still can't crochet, though. need that second needle!

Nupur said...

They are adorable, Cathy! As usual, I am in awe of such pretty things being made by one's own two hands. I think the colorful ones would really brighten up the kitchen...traditional or not.
My paternal grandmother was a crochet expert and I really regret not learning the craft from her (she passed away when I was in my teens).

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena! The great thing about crochet is it is SO inexpensive. You can pick up a large thing of crochet cotton for a couple of dollars and if I remember right, that'll be enough to make at least a couple potholders. Yes, looks like my days will be filled :) In between there'll be making Christmas cookies, etc. Lots to do!

Hi Santos! I feel very fortunate that I learned to knit and crochet as a kid - I have a feeling they'd be a lot more difficult to learn as an adult. I never did learn to tat though (not for a lack of trying) but wish I could have.

Hi Nupur! Thanks! Maybe if you ever get time for a trip up this way we can tackle crochet this time! In some ways it's easier than knitting, though I don't know much about the details.

Zarah Maria said...

Argh! I would never even try to attempt this - but they're mighty pretty! Maybe you can teach me the next time I'm in Maryland?:)

santos. said...

believe me, my mom tried to teach me when i was 9, 10, 11, 13, and finally gave up at 15. at least the knitting came relatively easily!

Anita said...

Thanks for posting these pictures and pattern. I have a friend at work that has some very old potholders and she asked me to make some new ones for her, but like the old ones. Hard to find patterns. Yours looks perfect. If I figure out how to fix the hole in the middle problem, I'll let you know. I've been crocheting and knitting for 30+ years... you think I'd be better by now!

These look so pretty, I hope I can do as well as you have.

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah! It's a deal!! Once you know the basics of crocheting, these potholders are easy to make. There are really only two stiches (mostly just one). I'd love to have a chance to teach you!

Hi Santos! I've always preferred the look of a knitted item to a crocheted one, but what I always liked about crocheting over knitting is that there's only one stitch that can be dropped so you can't get in as much trouble :)

Hi Anita! What a nice thing for you to do! I hope the pattern works out for you - I'm sure with all your crochet experience you'll be able to figure out any oddities in my pattern. Let me know if you do find a better way to start them and if you've got a digital camera, I'd love to see a picture of your when you're done!

craftydemons said...

these a re gorgeous. quite an inspiration. and i love that you use the ones your great grandmother made so long ago! lovely.

Aimee said...

I love your pattern :) I have an old one my mother got in an antique store, it has the picot edging. It does look pretty cute. I looked up how to do it and found this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE3V4uvkGp0&feature=related. Looks pretty easy!

Theresa said...

Thanks for this pattern!! Can't wait to make a few. Also - this: http://www.spellingtuesday.com/circular_co.html is one sneaky way to make that hole so you can close it up. :-)

Val said...

Hello. I know I'm late to the party, but I was jut wondering if you've ever tried to use a magic circle for the middle? It would definitely help with the problem of a large hole.

My Gramma makes something like these, only she crochets both sides and joins them every couple rows simultaneously...I'll never figure that one out XD

But these are really beautiful, and it's great to see family patterns being passed down through generations and finally to the internet where we can all crochet like our ancestors :)

-Val

Cathy said...

Hi Val - yes, the magic loop is just the thing for this situation. I don't remember if I used it the last time I made these, but I will certainly be using it the next time!

Anonymous said...

Hi, love the pattern and want to try it. You said it is crochet cotton size 10. I was wondering if you could use cotton yarn and maybe an E or F hook? I have lots of the cotton yarn.

Anonymous said...

I can crochet a scarf, and a granny square, a girlfriend requested I copy a potholder from her boyfriends mom. She "borrowed" it but had to return it before "mom" returned so I only had a quick look. It was quite old, but in good condition, and was very small, but perfect for the hand, and round. Im not even sure it was double sided. But it did look simple..famous last words, I know. Any Ideas?

Tom'sMom said...

I believe you can close up the hole by makeing a chain 2 and working the first ten stitches in the first chain and ten closing with a slip stitch to the first stitch.

Tom'sMom said...

I believe you can avoid the hole in the center by chaining 2 and work the 10 single chrochet in the first chain. Then attach to the first sc with a slip stitch.

portraitsofanimals said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I appreciate that as much as the pattern.

Jean said...

I had terrible trouble doing this when i knew i had 40 dc's and then started to do row 4 it would buckle up and acording to the directions i should only need to do the stisches between * and * on row four it didn't finish up at the beginning to do row 5
someething is amiss and i need help with it as I really really want to be able to do this pattern can someone help me or do the directions need an adjustment?? many thanks.
Jean jtierney@midtel.net

jyoti said...

A simple yet a beautiful one .I love it.

Rachel Donnelly said...

I love these potholders.
Thanks so much
Rachel Donnelly

Veronica said...

Hi,
I love this pattern and have tried it in different colors. I have shared your link on my blog and one of my hub articles about vintage patterns, along with pics of my own versions. Beautiful pattern and thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

To close the hole in the middle look up "magic Loop" there are several sites that can teach you to do this. basically you make a loop around 2 or 3 fingers then make your dc into the loop then pull the string and it tightens it up. I then work the end of the string into the next round. there are tutorials on it on the net.

Anonymous said...

I just love this pattern also but am having trouble on row 4 just like Jean stated on August 02, 2011, could you please share with me the solotion?

Thank You,
Leslie
lesliecavas@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I was looking for an easy potholder to make and this was perfect. I used a cotton thread but instead I'd crocheting two pieces together, I used two threads and crocheted it nice and thick. I plan on making several more! Thanks for the pattern!

Sandy said...

As with the previous comment. I really like this design but when I hit row 4 I'm stuck. It just doesn't add up. Help, please. What am I doing wrong?

Cathy said...

Many people have said they have trouble with round 4 and I'm sorry if it wasn't clear in the instructions - beginning in round 4 you work in the spaces between *pairs* of double crochet. You don't work in between every dc, just between every other dc. In most cases you'll be working a pair of dc's in the space, but in the corners where you're increasing, you'll work two pairs of dc's. If I ever get a moment to figure out the new blogger (my blog hasn't been active for several years), I'll try to make the pattern clearer and maybe post a close-up photo.

Brandy said...

Everyone who doesn't know how to crochet but would like to - you CAN!!! It's simply a matter of using Google & Youtube to learn! My paternal grandmother showed me how to do a single crochet stitch when I was 5 years old. Thanks to Google & YouTube, and now, at age 39, I'm making hats, afghans, scarfs, baby bonnets, YOU NAME it! Everything you need to know is available online!!! I encourage you to follow your dream if you really want to learn how to crochet! It's so much fun, it's so relaxing, and it really is like a form of meditation for many! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me - blaukaitis5008@student.elgin.edu and I'll be happy to help you out if I can, if not, I'll be Googling it too! :)

Karen said...

Hi Rowena,
Love the potholders - both the originals & your variations. I'm so old I remember my own grandmother making these & trying to teach me how - a lost cause on any tomboy! But I remembered the basic stitches & my best friend when I was a young mom taught me how again. She was a lefty & I a righty, so we sat knee to knee & I did what she did only in mirror image. I then taught my daughter & the skill hasn't been lost like her tatting skills, which I also relearned as a 40 yr old adult. So, old dogs can learn new tricks!
Karen

Mary said...

Hey, these look pretty good, I'll try them this weekend. I think that the hole in the center is a minor thing, nothing to worry about. And the lines and such are filled in so there are no spots to burn yourself on. Something important!

Anonymous said...

help I WANT TO LEARN AND AM WORCKING ONIT I AM HAVEING TROUBLE WHEN I GET A START THEN IT GETS ALL SO DARN TIGHT THAT I CAN NOT DO ANYTHING WITH IT PLASE TELL ME WHAT IS WRONG HERE I STILL WANT TO TRY I AM NOT ONE TO GIVE UP EASY BUT RIGHT NOW I AM GETING FUSTERED WITH IT

Maggie said...

Hi, just found this pattern. Just what I was looking for. You can close up the hole by starting with a magic circle. I can't explain it in writing by if you go to google you can see a tutorial. It is very easy. Good luck and thank you for the pattern.

Maggie

Anonymous said...

You could be holding the thread on your left hand too tightly. Try to make it a little looser and your tension will allow the loops to be a little bigger.

Anonymous said...

you need to make your patterns so we can just print the pattern not pages and pages of nothing!!!

Anonymous said...

no problem printing:)) all or a portion:))

BellaOsa said...

Well it's been a while since ur 1st post. No doubt u r doing much better now. But I still love the oldies but goodies. Thanks for sharing.

Ann Blachly said...

For those who want your pattern without excess, learn how to copy and paste and use your word processor. You can create the pattern to read how you will use it for ONLY YOU to print out. BE SURE you include the author and the website URL and copyright, etc. Honor the author/designer's requests..include that, too. If others want the pattern, send them to the author/designer website to print out for themselves. Oh, and thank you for sharing the potholder pattern. I put it in my pattern binder three years ago when I first learned to crochet (age then 56)...and realized I could copy the potholders my MIL had made that were wearing out after 10-12 years of use.

Sweetie Pie said...

I love this pattern as it reminds me of the many, many hours my grandmother-in-law spent sitting in the kitchen crocheting pot holders and lovely doilies. They are still some of my most treasured possessions. Now I can duplicate the same ones and actually use them! For those of you that are still interested, Purl Bee has an excellent tutorial with photos of how to make a "magic circle" or "adjustable loop" that can be used for the center of this pot holder:

http://www.purlbee.com/crochet-tutorials/adjustable-loop.html

Kim said...

Great Pattern! To make a Picot, you chain 3, then attach it back into the same stitch where the chain started

Sue said...

Hi, I noticed that you said you needed a way to close the little hole in the center. Why not try the "Magic Circle" method. It's pretty easy to do. Here's a link for youtube.com that shows you how to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLUaywX0-WE

Thanks for posting your patterns. I'm always looking for new things to crochet.