Category Archives: One of My Favorites

Completed hotpad made from a washcloth and crochet

World’s Best Hot Pads – Made from Washcloths

Completed hotpad made from a washcloth and crochet

This is a very photo heavy how-to to make the best hot pads ever. I learned how to make these from my Aunt Harriet. She wasn’t really my Aunt, she was a friend of my Grandmother’s who the family adopted. Harriet Saine was a wonderful woman and is greatly missed.

Her hot pads are famous in our family. Every year at Christmas she would pull out this gigantic stack of hot pads and every woman (with a house or apartment) would get to pick two. Sometimes Harriet brought so many we would get to chose a third one. When Harriet passed away, I got her supplies for making these hot pads. In her supplies were her crochet hooks. There is one that is completely eroded down to a nub. I had no idea you could even do that to a metal crochet hook. I cannot even begin to create as many of these as Harriet was able to. I am amazed every year I am able to make these for the family that she was able to do this every year for as long as I can remember. This is my homage to Aunt Harriet.

Supplies for the hotpads

The supplies for these hot pads are very few:

Cheap washcloth (this means no embroidered stripes or thick edges)

Crochet thread

1″ plastic rings

Crochet hooks (size 4/2.00mm and size 8/1.50mm)

Pins (optional, though recommended)

Scissors

You really do need to use cheaper washcloths for this project. Cheaper washcloths do not have a high thread count and make it much easier to get the crochet hook through the fabric for the first round of stitching. You also are much better off using plain washcloths, the ones with no embroidered stripes or thick edges. The stripes are very difficult to get a crochet hook through. That is not to say impossible, but it will hurt your hands if you have to force the hook through these stripes very often. I have somehow managed to collect around 50 washcloths to make into hot pads. Eventually, I will have to stop buying them.

The crochet thread can be any sort. I now have a huge collection of thread from variegated, solid, metallic, to threads with differing thickness. I personally prefer the variegated for my hot pads. I really like the effect it makes. I currently have 2 Rubbermaid tubs of crochet thread, and like the washcloths, I may eventually have to stop buying new colors. (I have a bad habit of buying every new variegated skein I find.)

For the plastic rings, you can use any size you prefer, but I tend to buy 3/4″, 1″ or 1 1/4″. I just have to make sure that I grab two of the same size for the set of hot pads (I always make sets of 2).

I use a size 8/1.50mm crochet hook for the first round of stitching and a size 4/2.00mm crochet hook for the decorative round of stitching. The size 8 goes through the fabric of the washcloth much easier and I like a slightly larger hook to make the edging, this is just personal preference though.

To make:

You fold the washcloth in half  and pin it to hold it in place. As you stitch, it tends to drift and you will end up with a lopsided fold. Holding it with the fold closer to you, begin the first single crochet in the upper left hand corner, at the midpoint of the corner.

First single crochet stitches

Continue your single crochet stitching around the corner, the first short side, next full corner, and to the folded edge. Keep stitching along the fold, next full corner, and up the second short side of the washcloth. You stop your stitching at the midpoint of the upper right corner. At this point, you have single crocheted around three sides of the washcloth (1/4 of the way finished).

Single crochet around three sides.

Now you need to open up the washcloth and put the two midpoints together (be sure to remove your pins). This makes what in the origami world is called a balloon fold. You connect all four corners of the washcloth at the top of the hot pad and this creates 4 triangle shaped wings. The photo below shows this fold in a flattened view from the top. You can see the four corners of the washcloth stitched together, although in the photo, the edges are not yet completely stitched. Putting a couple of pins into the wings will again help keep your folds straight and prevent you from having a lopsided hot pad.

Start of second round of single crochet stitches

You stick your crochet hook through the two pieces of fabric at the midpoints of the corners and start single crocheting down the short side (from here on, all the sides are short sides). Continue around the washcloth (you will stitch over your first round of crochet as you go) until you are again back at the top. This should have closed all the sides and created the 4 wings and top and bottom points (1/2 way finished). You are now ready to start the decorative edging. You can also remove all the pins now.

Here the single crochet is finished and you are ready to start the decorative edging.

I switch hooks to the larger size 4/2.00mm hook and double crochet at this point. When I started making these hot pads, I used to make different types of edgings. You can experiment until you find one you like. I like this one and it is very easy and pretty. Single crochet twice and insert the hook under the first single crochet on the opposite wing of the hot pad. You will use this stitch as the post to stitch 3 more double crochet stitches around. Finish off with one single crochet. This completes one scallop. You will make one of these scallops in every other single crochet stitch from the first round.

dc in first sc, *dc around first dc 3 times, sc, skip single crochet and dc in next sc, continue from *

Double Crochet post stitch

First of the three DC stitches

Second of three DC stitches

Third of DC stitches

Decorative Edge Finished

Add Ring

When you finish the edging and are back at the top of the hot pad you will add your plastic ring. You don’t have to add a plastic ring, but so many people like to hang their hot pads from hooks. You can skip this part entirely if you don’t want to hang your hot pads. You single crochet around the ring making sure to completely cover the plastic ring. I finish the ring with one final single crochet back into the hot pad. I tie off the threads and pull the ends inside the hot pad with the crochet hook.

Finished Ring

You have now finished your first hot pad! As I said above, I always make these in pairs and would now start my second one. I can make one hot pad in about an hour (1 and 1/2  if I am interrupted a lot).

Pile of finished hot pads

I have tried to photo the whole process, but if you have any questions, or want another photo, just let me know. I hope you enjoy these hot pads as much as I and my family do!

Happy Crafting,

Kristin

Finished hot pad

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Crocheted earmuffs in cream and black wool yarn.

Crafty Challenge 12: Headwarmer – Earmuffs


Crocheted earmuffs in cream and black wool yarn.

Our most recent crafty challenge was to make a headwarmer. This could be in any color, material, style or shape. Cheri was ahead of us all and posted her adorable recycled sweater hat here. We gave ourselves 3 weeks to make this particular challenge as we were all still recovering from the holidays. I had mine done in less than a week and then had to try very had not to talk about it or brag about it. Of course, this early birdness of me is now completely offset by my late posting.

I love earmuffs, but have never been able to find a satisfactory pair. The never stay on my head or they don’t cover my ears very well. I also hate hats as I have very static prone hair. I knew as soon as we started talking about a headwarmer challenge that earmuffs were my challenge.

I bought a cheap set of fleece wrap-around earmuffs for less than $2. I then cut the fleece off the wire and used the wire for the base of my earmuffs. I have some lovely wool yarn, one skein in cream and another in black. I also received this gigantic spool of very fine black alpaca yarn on year for Christmas. I took all three yarns and crocheted my earmuffs with this lovely and warm combination.

Crocheted earmuffs made on wire frame.

I crocheted 4 circles in double crochet, all the same size and just big enough to cover my ears. I then held two of these circles on either side of the ear part of the wire frame and using half-double crochet, I stitched the circles together. I really wanted the double thickness which provides amazing protection from cold and wind. You could also put some stuffing or quilting in between the two circles if you wanted poofy earmuffs (this would be very cute for a child).

After stitching both circles on the frame, I then single crocheted around the length of wire between the ear pieces. To keep from having to weave-in ends, I folded the ends from the ear pieces under the single crochet. This made the back wire a little thicker and made it so I only had the ends from this last stretch to weave-in.

Crocheted earmuffs in black and cream wool yarn.

This completed my earmuffs. This project took me all of about 2 hours and most of that was just figuring out what stitch I wanted to use to make the circles. I have been wearing these for weeks now and just love them. They are comfortable, very warm, and I haven’t had cold ears at all this year!

Happy Crafting!

Kristin

Ballet Dancer Collage

Ballet Dancer Collage
Framed ballet dancer with butterflies collage.

Ballet Dancer Collage

Cheri: I love ballet. I like to watch it. I liked to dance ballet when I was younger. And I like any art form connected with it. When I decided to make this collage I  wanted to convey this in this piece.

The idea for this started when I bought a book at a garage sale that was a child’s book of ballet. The book was from the 60’s and it had a very stylized look to it. As I flipped through the book I came across this picture of a dancer in an arabesque. This picture was going to be the focal point. After I cut the picture out I flipped it over and felt the reverse side with the text was the better option.

I went through my scrapbook paper until I came across a pattern that I liked. Then I chose a frame. (I have several to choose from). I used spray adhesive to glue the paper to a mat and sized it to the frame. The frame says a lot about the piece and often if I can get the frame correct the rest of the piece seems to fall into place.

The fun part begins after that. I colored the dancer in and then I took little pieces of newspaper wrapped them around the end of the pencil to give them the form of flowers. I then dipped them in glue and placed them as the skirt for the dancer.

As I have said before I have all kinds of odds and ends that I picked up and sometimes these pieces just kind of call to me to be placed in a picture. The round paper disc was one of those. It has a vintage feel to it and I felt that the placement of it made it feel like the dancer was balancing on the tag. The butterflies were cut from tissue paper and have a really nice light, pastel, look to them.

Last but not least is the dancer that seems sad in the corner. She was another figure that I cut out from the book and I chose not to have the complete figure show for this. The piece does say some things about life to me, and I think that is what really makes me love collage so much.

Ballet Dancer Collage
Close-up of the dancer and her butterflies.
Ballet Dancer Collage
Curled newspaper wrapped around a pencil forms her skirt.
Ballet Dancer Collage
My incomplete sad ballerina in her corner and a close-up of the label tag.

The Coach-A-Thon

One of my best garage sale finds happened just this season. It was during one of those rare times when all four of us get to run around together and boy, we had a successful day. Unfortunately, we hadn’t started the blog yet, so there are no pictures of the bountiful booty we picked up that day, but you have seen and will see some of the items we picked up in other posts here. My new to me Subaru Forester was absolutely packed to the brim and we had to repack everything at least once.

My particular favorite purchase was a black Coach messenger bag. Now, to understand the gravity and wonder of this find, you first have to know that we love Coach purses. The family hunters have had great success over the years at finding them, but this sale was like a gold mine. They were selling 5 of them. They originally were asking $5 for each, but as the day was waning, they would sell them for $2 a piece. With absolutely no haggling, I picked them all up and we instantly sounded like a flock of clucking chickens deciding who got which ones. I was pretty adamant that I get the black messenger bag as I had been specifically looking for one, which made it the perfect day!

Black Coach messenger bag.

I love the hardware. I’m not normally a fan of brass hardware, but here it is perfect.

Brass hardware.

I have been carrying it for a few weeks now and I find that I like it more all the time. I had just bought a new purse a few weeks before (a really new one from an actual department store), but it now sits by the wayside. I will get back to it it eventually, but for now it is Coach at my side.

Nostalgia Strikes: Weekly Reader Book Bag

Weekly Reader Book Bag
Third-grade status symbol, circa 1982

I had to have this the minute I spotted it at a big barn sale recently. I have no idea what I will do with it, but it was 10 cents. The minute I picked it up, I was transported back to elementary school. The Weekly Reader program was a big deal—not only did we get to get out of class, we got to buy books!

 I was obsessed with books even before I could read, and during the era of the
Weekly Reader bag, I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary. I remember buying my copy of Ramona and Her Mother at the Weekly Reader book fair, and I was in love the minute I read about Willa Jean’s teddy bear.
 
I read every Beverly Cleary book I could get my hands on over the next two years, but eventually I grew up and moved on. I forgot about Ramona for almost two decades. Then came September 11, 2001. The night the Twin Towers fell, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get the horror out of my head and sleep. I searched my bookshelves for something, anything, that would help me put it out of my head. There, tucked into the back of a shelf was my Weekly Reader copy of Ramona and Her Mother, and I started reading.
 
I loved the book just as much as I did in elementary school. It’s just as fresh and funny, and even more poignant. I laughed until I cried at Ramona’s carsick scene and felt just as bad as Beezus at her bad haircut. It was exactly the innocence that I needed that night, and I fell asleep knowing that there is good in the world, even when horrible things happen.
 
Every now and then, I pick up a book from my childhood. I have a 1977 Weekly Reader copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle on my bookshelf now. It is simply impossible to be unhappy when you’re reading about a mouse who can drive.
 
—Loryn

A Different Scribbler Too

Scribbler Too
Growing Love

I love it when I am surfing the web and I come across a program that is almost too cool for words. A few days ago I came across a program that is called Scribbler Too. It is a drawing tool on the computer. I have used a few of these before because they offer a really exciting view into the possibilities of computer drawing. This one has become one of my favorites. It is easy to find and you need next to no instruction about it. You just start drawing. The program makes you feel like an outstanding artist and if you don’t like your drawing you can just clear it. I do have to admit that drawing with a mouse does take some getting used to but, the effort is really worth it because you end up with what I feel are some really incredible works of art. The drawing I am posting is called “Growing Love”, and I have done several renditions of it. I love to look at trees and I do really enjoy drawing them. This program is fabulous for that and I am able to get little bit of satisfying creativity off my chest. Try it, I can guarantee you will really love it.

-Cheri