First, there's a bit of "old business".
I decided to drop the 365 Crochet Flowers project. The flowers are fun to make, but I just couldn't think of anything I really wanted to make from so many irregularly shaped/sized worsted-weight acrylic flowers. Crochet thread would've yielded more useful flowers, but those would've been less enjoyable to make (for me). Some lightweight (but not thread-weight!) mercerized cotton would've been better, but I still didn't have any specific, motivating project in mind for them.
Also, there's the fact that even one little flower a day takes time to make, and it adds up. It would be worth it if I knew what I wanted to do with them, but without a sense of purpose...? No, not really worth it (again, for me).
In the end, I decided that I'll eventually make something from the flowers I'd already crocheted, but for the time being, I'm not making any more of them. I'd rather put the time and energy toward other things.
One of those "other things" has been joining and edging the scrappy granny square afghan. I'm still on the last round of the edging, but soon there should be a project reveal. (And I think I never actually took any decent "finished project" photos for two other afghans I've crocheted in the past however-long-it's-been, so one day soon, I hope to have "ta-da" posts for each of those, as well!)
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My mother's birthday was late last month, and one of the items on her wish list (yes, I'm one of those people who request a wish list, most of the time, unless it's a blue moon and I've managed to think of something on my own)... As I was saying, one of the items on her wish list was pot holders, so I thought I'd try to make a handful to go in with her gift.
I made two very simple ones by cutting squares from a felted 100% wool sweater (bought from a thrift store during a "10 items for $10" sale). I don't have a photo of those, but you're not missing much. While it felted up nice and thick, the sweater wasn't the cutest thing ever, so the resultant pot holders were also a bit dark and drab. I thought it might be fun to give a variety of types for her to try, though. I have a couple of felted wool pot holders from my mother-in-law, and we do use them a lot.
(Did you know that wool is naturally flame-resistant? It can still burn, of course, but it tends to burn itself out rather than going up in flames all at once.)
For the other pot holders, I wanted to start with quilt blocks. Rather than cut into new fabric, I used scraps. (That's my preferred aesthetic, anyway, and for pot holders, scraps are perfect.)
The last time I made pot holders, I had a heck of a time with the binding. Ugh. I'm really not great at joining the ends of the binding strip on any project, but with pot holders, it's just so much worse! So on the first one of these, I thought I'd be sneaky and just not use any binding at all. I watched a tutorial or two and gave it a go.
While the resultant pot holder should be functional, it came out looking a little sloppier than I'd have liked...
Here's the front:
And the back, which I prefer to the front... (I made pieced backs for all of these, in an effort to use up scraps-- and also because I find pieced backs more charming than plain ones.)
Oh, and I also had serious trouble with my thread skipping stitches, during the putting-together of that first pot holder. (The machine punched holes for all the stitches, but the thread wouldn't always "catch" like it's supposed to, so it would just be lying on the surface of the fabric.)
I had read recommendations to use only cotton thread (after doing most of the piecing of all of them with polyester), so I'd just switched to cotton and thought maybe that was the problem (though the piecing had gone okay with cotton). I switched back to polyester, made a practice sandwich, and found that I had the same trouble with poly thread-- but with both thread types, it only happened intermittently. (Ugh. Sewing machine problems are sooo annoying!)
Anyway, to cut the story short, I finally switched to a new needle, and that seemed to resolve the problem.
Lesson: Listen to the advice you see/hear/read everywhere, and change the needle more often!
(I need to make a bulk purchase of needles so I can stop feeling so stingy about them. I think I'm afraid I'll run out...)
...So, where was I?
The second pot holder! The theme was "anything remotely red". This one turned out better, if I do say so myself. ;o) I'm sure this basic layout of half-square triangles has a name, but I don't know what it is. I just made a stack of HSTs (8-at-a-time, my favorite way) and played around until I found an arrangement I liked.
As you can see, I decided to go back to binding, after the disappointing result from the no-binding method. (It may work well for some people, but it's not for me.)
To get around the tricky bit of joining the binding strip, I followed a tutorial video that showed how to make a hanging loop from the binding. (Personally, I rarely use hanging loops on pot holders, but if it means I can avoid the joining part, I'll put a hanging loop on every pot holder I ever make, from here on out!)
Here's the back of the red pot holder:
Last but not least, there's one in blue. Because of my habit of perpetually "winging it" (and not being too bothered about such things), the binding ate the points of the blue star. ...But ...It's a pot holder. I'm pretty sure it'll still hold pots, points or no points.
I like how this one turned out, too. Again, I'm sure this simple layout has been used for centuries, but I have no idea what its name might be.
The back is a little boring, but it does the job.
While making these, I learned that I've been using Insul-Brite incorrectly. You're supposed to use either two layers of the insulating batting or one layer of Insul-Brite and one of another heat-resistant material-- usually cotton batting.
In the past, I've just used one layer of Insul-Brite and called it a day, so those handful of pot holders might not be optimally protective. For these three, I used a layer of Insul-Brite with a layer cut from an old towel (terrycloth). I think that should do the job.
Apparently there are as many ways of insulating pot holders as there are crafters-- all sorts of combinations of Insul-Brite, towels, cotton batting, flannel, and felt. Some people even use polyester batting in combination with other things, but I think I'll avoid polyester, myself. It might be fine, but I'd rather not.
I think I've had my fill of making pot holders for a while!