Monday, July 19, 2010

Gahaekelte Topflappen

Funny name: Gehaekelte Topflappen

So what in the world does it mean?

In German, Gehaekelte means crochet and Topflappen translates as "pot rag" or "oven cloth." In other words: crocheted potholder.
On the* site, it is a particular crochet potholder pattern. At this posting, nearly 90 projects have been published on the site using the pattern. This blog post will give an overview of the pattern, include some variations or interpretations of the pattern, provide a pattern source for those who may want to give it a try, and offer some tips and suggestions for making successful finished Gehaekelte Topflappen.
Let's get started!
Introduction: I first saw Gehaekelte Topflappen on while looking for potholder patterns and thought there were some attractive versions. I also saw that the instructions for the pattern were in German, a language I do not speak. (I took Latin in school...)
Then one of my ravelry friends, LubbockArmadillo (a.k.a. Cindy), sent me an attractive potholder she made from the pattern. The potholder on the left in the photo below is the one Cindy sent me. I loved it. The size of Cindy's gift potholder to me is 7.5 inches, a perfect size—not too big, not too small. The second is another she crocheted in similar colors. (I am using a version of her photos here with her permission.)
Pattern source: It turns out that Cindy, with the help of some friends, managed to translate the pattern from German into English and she kindly included the pattern along with the potholder she sent to me. A few days later I was off and running—crocheting potholders using her translation. If you want to see Cindy's posting about the pattern you can find info on her blog: Click Here.
Variations and Examples: Below are some of the initial potholders I made from this pattern. The actual first one is on the bottom right in earth tones: rust and greens. With the exception of the centers, four of these five closely followed the pattern Cindy shared, in which sixteen petals or spires are indicated. I soon found that when I made the potholders, some seemed tight—even stiff for the types of cotton yarns I was using—Tahki Cotton Classic solids, in particular. I decided I needed to modify the pattern for my use so that by the fifth one (the sunflower potholder on the left) I needed to crochet 14, instead of 16 spires/petals.

When I crocheted the sunflower (above), I began thinking of this pattern more in terms of flowers so next I made a batch of daisy-like potholders. These are shown in the two photos that follow.

Just for fun, I decided to superimpose some of the Topflappen onto a painting of a vase of flowers. I emailed my oldest son, Brian, to ask him the German word for flower potholder. In addition to English, Brian speaks German, Japanese, French and Swedish. (He was an exchange student to a Swedish-speaking community in Finland during his junior year in high school and now, as an adult, he is an international pilot. His fluency in these languages comes in very handy.) Brian said the proper way to write flower potholder in German would be Blumentopflappen. He said that, because it is a noun, it must be capitalized and also that it is written as one word. So, there you have it: a vase of Blumentopflappen.

After experimenting with flowers, next I modified the pattern even more by making Kaleidoscope Potholders. Some of these potholders are featured in the following photo.

Among the modifications to the Gehaekelte Topflappen pattern to make the Kaleidoscope Potholders are: rounds of black sc's between the rows of color, a raised black border around the center color, changing rounded spires to more spiky ones on one of the potholders (top potholder in this photo). One of these kaleidoscope potholders (far right) has the original 16 spires because thinner cotton crochet threads were used. The other three are made with 14 spires.

More about the pattern: I think an earlier pattern was designed for less dense crochet threads such as size 3 J&P Coats Royale Fashion Crochet. The thicker cottons like Tahki Cotton Classic, Omega Sinfonia, Elann Sonata, and Hobby Lobby "I Love This Cotton!" adapt better for 14 spires/petals, rather than 16 (at least this is so for me). I was reinforced in my opinion about the original pattern and finer cottons when I found the following diagram, which might be the source for the pattern. This diagram shows: 18 spires/petals, additional rounds of crochet, and many more stitches in the clusters. It is also possible that this version may have been a doily using even finer crochet threads such as size 10 or thinner or a very closely/finely stitched potholder.
Tips and suggestions for crocheting the Gehaekelte Topflappen pattern:
1. Visit Cindy's blog for the basic pattern. (See link embedded in this blog under "pattern source.")
2. Use 100 percent cotton yarns/threads on all potholders (not just this pattern) as they provide greater insulation and proper protection for handling hot pans and dishes. Acrylic (which is a synthetic, rather than natural fiber) can melt when exposed to high temps.
3. Most of these potholders were crocheted using a size F hook. If you use thicker yarns, you will need a G hook. Using thicker yarns and a G hook will result in a larger completed potholder. Most finished potholders are recommended to measure between 6 and 9 inches. In my opinion, 7-8 inches are the most desirable sizes.
4. Be sure to make your potholders double-sided for thickness so hands won't get burned. This pattern is a double-sided. The fronts and backs are joined together in the last step. All of the potholders featured here have identical fronts and backs.
5. If using denser cottons (Tahki Cotton Classic, Omega Sinfonia, Elann Sonata, Paton's Grace, Red Heart Creme de la Creme, and Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Cotton!") you may want to reduce the number of spires/petals in the pattern down from 16 to 14. Paton's Grace is a little finer, but I still make 14 spires/petals when using it.
6. Think of interpreting the pattern in a variety of ways: purely as a design, as flowers, in monochromatic colors that lighten or deepen in intensity from the center out, in bright colors that catch the eye, or in subdued pastel colors to match a certain kitchen or please a particular person. Imagine the possibilities!
7. In making the kaleidoscope potholders, each side ends in a round of black sc's before the final joining round. This provides better coverage and a more finished look to the outer edge so that the previous color does not show through. The kaleidoscope potholders take the most time of the varieties featured here because there are more rounds and color changes; the flowers take the least time because there are fewer color changes.
8. Add a hanging loop at the top of the potholder. I prefer to use a 1 and 1/8 inch (2.8 cm) plastic ring that attaches at the top of the potholder at the end of the joining round. The plastic rings are generally used for cafe curtains and can be purchased in packages of 12-14 at fabric stores in the notions department. Using a tapestry needle and a long tail of the joining color, go around and around the ring with tight and uniform blanket stitches. This completes the potholder with a very tailored and professional final touch.

* is an online knitting and crocheting community with thousands of members from around the globe. It is an online gathering place to share and locate patterns, to document individual projects which are shared with the larger community, to connect with like-minded fiber artists and participate in specialized groups, to learn new techniques and better one's skills in knitting and crocheting.


  1. AWESOME!!!! Thank you so much!

  2. You are so welcome. It is my pleasure to share.

  3. thanks for this info! I saw that pattern and went OH NO it's in GERMAN!! LOL!
    thanks for the help in figuring it out!

  4. Wow, oh, Wow! These are stunning, too!
    Your son sounds like a delightful young man. Mine is in his last year of college, majoring in Chemistry.
    You are very, very creative....thank you!

  5. I've been looking for this pattern for ages. My grandmother made some for us years ago and now they're all worn out and Nana's gone. This will be a VERY touching Christmas present for my mom and sister. Many, many thanks!

  6. These are truly amazing. Beautiful!

  7. Thank you so much for putting all of this information together!! I've been wanting to make some of these for awhile! Now I'll be able to.

  8. my mom used to make these all the time. She never worked from a pattern just knitted and crocheted everything on her own. I have one of these still in my kitchen. (for decoration mostly I don't use them). Up until a year ago she was know as the crochet lady at the nursing home she resides in. (just turned 91 Lat Monday)

  9. Nice, need to try them! Just madevsome with granny square stars....
    Btw, gehäkelt translates into "crocheted" ;-)

  10. Thank you so much. Not only are the directions well written and easy to understand, I appreciate all the photos showing different examples. Well done!

  11. beautiful potholders - I love them

  12. a friend of my mother's made a couple pairs of this topflappen before i immigrated to the U.S. from Germany.
    i have been looking for the pattern for so long and am happy to finally have found it. BUT..... while i speak, think and dream in English, i only knit and crochet in German. lol lol so i tried to get the original pattern in German but it's not available on line anymore.
    would you happen to have a copy of the pattern in German? i'd be forever grateful!
    Hannelore "Hanni" Cook

  13. Hanni, I'm sorry that I am unable to help you locate this pattern in German. I hope you are able to find it so you can make many of these beautiful potholders in the future.