Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pictures to follow soon (or not so soon)

I've been knitting kitchen goodies all winter long ... no-brainer, self-styled patterns and color combinations because I spend a lot of time waiting in the car, waiting at dance class, waiting for the phone to ring. Although most of these little knits are based on the principal of grandma's favorite dishcloth, I basically make them up as I go along. For those who have been asking, here is a general guideline on how to make the coasters and potholders:

  • Using the equivalent of three (yes, three) strands of worsted weight cotton (I prefer Peaches 'n Creme, no affiliation, I just really like the product) and size 8 or 9 needles, cast on three stitches.

  • Row 1: bring the yarn to the front, slip 1 stitch purlwise (you will be making a twisted chain stitch selvedge). Knit in front and back of second stitch (sometimes written as kfb), knit to end of row. You have increased one stitch (inc 1 st ) There will be four stitches on your needle.

  • Repeat row 1 until one side of your potholder or coaster is as long as you like (about 4 inches for a coaster, 6 or more inches for a potholder).

  • Next row: repeat selvedge stitch, knit next two stitches together (k2tog), knit to end of row. You have decreased one stitch (dec 1) on this row.

  • Repeat the decrease row until three stitches remain on needle. Bind off, weave in ends, and you are done.

This little bit of knitting, done all in garter stitch, creates a thick and cushy coaster or hot pad. Using three strands of worsted weight cotton creates enough thickness to protect your table from oven-hot casserole dishes or the heat from a piping hot mug of cocoa. The coasters are excellent at absorbing the condensation on the outside of the tall tumbler of iced tea or other cold beverages.

Each coaster will use approximately 20 yards of each strand of yarn you use; potholders will require about 50 yards of each.

Just to minimize the number of items in my knitting bag and keep yarn tangles to a minimum, I generally use one strand of double weight worsted and one strand of regular worsted.

Although I haven't done it, some people swear by wool for potholders and coasters. Some precautionary notes: acrylics melt, so the synthetic yarn would probably be okay for coasters; I would hesitate to use it near the stove. If you do use wool, look for washable wool; otherwise, use 100% wool, make your coasters extra humungo, and felt them to size in the washing machine. Again, I'm not a felter, but a google search of "felted wool potholder pattern" will turn up virtually dozens of free patterns.

I get a kick out of creating and gifting these projects. People will actually use these handknitted gifts ... even if you get the colors wrong, every kitchen can use an extra "utilitarian" potholder, and the coasters are handy when extra people show up at the cocktail hour.

Some ideas for the knitted kitchen gift:

  • add a matching dishcloth and scrubby for a shower or housewarming gift basket.
  • Choose yarn colors that match or complement a special coffee mug, knit one coaster and add a package of gourmet chocolate, sample size of special coffee or tea. Voila! you have created a one-of-a-kind gift for teachers or other special helpers.
  • Four coasters, a small package of gourmet cookies, a small package of specialty coffee or cocoa ... another seasonal gift basket