Friday, May 03, 2013

Potholder progress

I've been doing potholders for therapy for about ten years now, have probably made a couple hundred potholders, but I can still find ways to keep it interesting.  Combining colors in different ways. Combining loops from various makers. Trying a new weaving technique. Cutting up socks to make my own loops.

Someday I'd like to have a sock machine - or a friend who has one & will make me loops - in the meantime, I periodically look for some way to make satisfactory loops on my own. Not that I haven't made potholders with unsatisfactory loops (some of which I made myself) and liked them. But still ...

In upcoming posts I will be reporting my experiences with the twill-like weave (upper right in image above) with better quality [aka 'higher cost'] loops, with making my own loops on a sock loom, and with Harrisville Designs 10" Potholder PRO Size loom & loops.

Also some miniature potholders, at some point.

Stay tuned.


I occasionally browse through craft activity sets at toy stores and craft stores, with one eye out for things that could help me turn yarn into potholder loops, another eye out for good craft activities that share some of the beneficial attributes of potholder looms & loops, perhaps an eye out for things that relate to my Block Play, and another eye dedicated to trying not to knock things over or bump into other people. Not always successful.

But a couple of weeks ago I found a friendship bracelet kit at Math 'n' Stuff that included slotted foam disks to help manage complicated braiding. Could this be the long-sought counterpart to a potholder loom that would let me explore a greater variety of colors? (I had some idea how many colors embroidery floss comes in). Might it even be used to create potholder loops? Sold!

A few minutes later, a few blocks down the street, at Beadworld, I came across kumihimo - the grown-up version of the little foam wheels in the friendship bracelet set. Yes, I had "seen" kumihimo previously, but hadn't clicked, or had only seen how complicated kumihimo could be, not how easy. I hadn't known there was a "baby steps" version.

So I've been exploring a variety of the low end stuff, knowing I will soon get to some of the fancier stuff soon.

I learned the difference between embroidery floss & craft thread and found out that not only do the disks work with these, but also with yarn, various kinds of string & twine, plastic lace, and various other similar things. I can hardly wait to try cedar bark.

Mixing stuff with different sizes or attributes creates wonderful texture effects. One of my trial examples in the picture above includes jute twine & wool yarn together, another both jute & sisal.

I expect to continue to expand my braiding experimentation long into the future, and will continue to post as I go - but check out the Braiding stuff [here] in the meantime.  

And for sure, I will not give up on potholder looms - and with braiding (& I hope, some small loom & tablet weaving) the combination may get me finally posting here, rather than letting the blog lie dormant.

For one thing, I want to check out Harrisville Designs 10" Potholder PRO Size loom & loops.


Saturday, August 09, 2008


A few years ago, I rediscovered potholder looms after having neglected them since my stepdaughters were twerps. I had been delighted to rediscover them then after having enjoyed them in my own childhood, and have been enjoying them anew in recent years.

For a while, I moderated a discussion forum dedicated to them, but discussions were rare and spamming attempts were common, and that is now gone.

Because of a long-unchanged web page [now gone since Yahoo dropped their Geocities hosting service] I continued to get email inquiries, and decided to activate this dormant blog as a place to share what I have discovered about sources and techniques, show off some of my work, and perhaps even answer some of those questions.

By far the most common questions are about loops and sources.

The very nicest loops are Harrisville wool loops (right), the easiest to work with are Klutz loops (left), with Harrisville cotton loops (top, finished this morning) fitting nicely in between. Nylon loops are by far the cheapest, in per-potholder cost, but can be unsatisfactory both on the loom and as potholders.

I get most of my stuff from local stores, Math 'n' Stuff, and Top Ten Toys, with the occasional order from Klutz supplementing.

My own Amazon storefront has my choices of tools and supplies. I get a few cents if you order there, and more importantly, I get some measure as to how much interest there is in what I am doing here.

Potholder loops were originally byproducts of sock manufacturing (trimmed off after closing the toe), and many of the budget bags still come from that source. These loops tend to lack consistency and can be difficult to make nice potholders from. Harrisville and Klutz loops are custom made for craft use.

One can also cut loops from some socks, colored stockings, or tights, with satisfactory results. This is not necessarily a budget option, but can provide variety in colors. The potholder at right was from a pair of dollar-store striped socks cut along the stripes.

Potholder looping is primarily a therapy activity for me. I have found it very beneficial, and the recipients of my potholders seem pleased with the results. Many of my potholders have been sold at charity events.

I welcome comments and topic suggestions, but am usually unable to provide individual responses.