I have a beloved pair of knit cotton potholders that I’ve used in my kitchen for the past six years. They’ve helped me pull every sheet of cookies out the oven, allowed me to peek under the lid of pot after pot of simmering beans, and transitioned endless cast iron skillets directly from oven to dinner table.
The design is sturdy, simple, and straightforward. And even though they now show ample evidence of their daily use, their stains are part of what I love about them. Still, I’ve been wanting a few more and to improve upon them (a loop for hanging would make them perfect).
I asked my friend Rose to help me troubleshoot the project. She’s a genius at making something lovely from the humblest of materials. Here she’s done it again: potholders made from everyday butcher’s twine and knit with…chopsticks.
Instructions from Rose, photos from me:
Supplies to make the knitting needles:
+ Wooden chopsticks (of the sort you might get with takeout orders)
+ Pencil sharpener
+ Washi or other tape less then 1” in thickness
Supplies to make the potholder:
+ 24-ply Cotton Butcher’s Twine (~375ft) (Cotton Butcher’s Twine can easily be found in many local kitchen and hardware stores)
+ Chopstick knitting needles or equivalent knitting needles size 8 or 9
+ Darning needle
+ Ruler (optional)
To make your own knitting needles:
+ Sharpen the ends of both chopsticks with a pencil sharpener until a point forms.
+ Gently use the sandpaper to smooth over the tip of the needle and along the length of the chopstick. This will remove any wooden splinters and create a rounded smooth tip at the end of the chopstick.
+ Wind your tape around the very base of the needle roughly 8-10 times. This will prevent stitches from falling off the end of the needle while you knit.
+ You’re ready to begin!
To knit the potholder:
+ Leaving a 6-inch tail, cast on 24 stitches.
+ Knit the first row and continue knitting in garter stitch (knitting every row) for 23 additional rows, or until the piece measures almost 8 inches from your cast-on edge.
+ Bind off all stitches, except for the last stitch.
+ To create a loop for hanging your potholder you will continue to knit the last stitch using both needles to create a chain roughly 6-inches long.
+ Bind off the last stitch by cutting a 8-inch tail, and threading the tail end through the last loop on your knitting needle.
+ Using your darning needle, connect the tail end of your chain stitch to the corner of your potholder by threading it through a corner stitch. Wrap the tail around the base and tie a single or double knot to secure.
+ Weave in the extra tail end with your darning needle and cut off any extra length. Repeat with the tail end at the beginning.
+ You’re finished!
The finished potholder can be used in the kitchen or transitioned to the dinner table as a trivet. Depending on your needs, adjust the numbers of rows that you cast on and knit and you can have a potholder in any size that makes sense for you.
If you’ve never knit anything at all, this is still the project for you. I taught myself to knit in college using Debbie Stoller’s book, Stich ‘n Bitch and today there are terrific online tutorials to make learning even easier. I really like the simple how-to videos from Sheep & Stitch. They include everything you need for this project including casting on, the knit stitch (also known as garter stitch), and casting off (also called binding off!).
Thanks to Rose Pearlman for developing this project and writing the instructions. Rose is an artist, teacher, and textile designer. With a background in fine arts and a love of well designed functional objects, her creations blur the lines between art and craft and pushes the boundaries with non-traditional techniques and materials. Rose teaches monthly rug hooking workshops in and around her home in NYC, and also welcomes commissions for one of a kind constructions in decor and home furnishings. Her work has been featured in fiber magazines, galleries, and numerous online design sites. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
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