Grammy's Former Favorite Potholder

The importance of fiber choice.
The importance of fiber choice.

Years ago, my mother-in-law sent me a crocheted, cotton potholder as an inspiration piece. It was her favorite potholder and she thought maybe I could create a knit version for her, and I did.

Grammy's Favorite Potholder

The potholder lived in her kitchen drawer for years and was used regularly until that fateful day. She used the potholder to remove a hot lid. Then, she set the lid on an empty burner of her gas stove with the potholder draped across the handle. (I bet you can see where this story is going.) She walked away while the stove was still lit and the potholder caught on fire! Luckily the fire was quickly extinguished.

Shortly after, she gave me a plastic bag containing the burned bits and asked if I would make her another potholder just like the first. Well...Um... No! I'm happy to stitch up another flammable potholder, but let's think about this for a minute.

Different Fibers Have Different Characteristics

When I stitched the original potholder, I was so focused on knitting it as close to the crocheted version as possible that I didn't consider one of the most important parts of knitting (or crocheting), fiber choice.

Different fibers have different qualities and characteristics. Before casting on, it's worth considering what characteristics are important for the finished piece to perform its best.

In the case of the original potholder, I used cotton primarily because that's what my MIL expected. A cotton potholder is sturdy, washes up nicely and provides enough thermal resistance to keep you from burning your fingers when you use it to grab a pot lid, but it's not flame resistant. Most of the time that isn't a problem until the day it becomes a very hot problem.

Wool to the Rescue!

Before I stitched a replacement, Grammy's NEW Favorite Potholder, I rethought my yarn choice. This time I used 100% merino wool (non-superwash) from my stash of handspun. Not only is wool durable and hard-wearing, it's comparatively flame-retardant with a fairly slow burning rate and it often self-extinguishes.

Grammy's NEW Favorite potholder.