Monday, April 25, 2011

The BIG 2011 Potholder Swap

April 25, 2011: Just over a year ago I was searching online for a potholder pattern. I kept finding references to a big potholder swap in which hundreds of participants sent in 5 crocheted potholders by a certain date after which the 5 potholders were replaced by 5 different ones made by 5 other participants and sent back. There were so many colorful, artfully executed potholders that I was hooked (accidental crochet pun). 

The word "ravelry" kept coming up in the many blogs that covered the event. I discovered that ravelry was a free online organization to which hundreds of thousands of members belonged. (There are now over one million members across the globe.) The site is dedicated to knitting, crocheting and spinning/weaving. I joined.

This year I crocheted my 5 potholders so I could participate in the annual potholder event; I was too late last year. This year's deadline was April 16, 2011; I sent my five on March 15, 2011. I am currently watching the mail for the 5 that will come back to me.

Overview of the swap (this info comes directly from the swap organizers): 
The Rules:

There’s no need to sign up or notify anyone in any way that you intend to swap. Have your potholders at the destination below by April 16 and you’ll be swapping. If you don’t have them there on time, they’ll be returned to you. Feel free to participate in the Flickr and Ravelry groups, but it’s not a requirement.
Your Potholders:
Each participant is required to crochet 5 potholders in the same pattern. Please do vary the colors as you see fit. We don’t want you bored to tears! Please be sure your hot pads and potholders measure between 6 and 8 inches across and are double thick. THEY MUST BE WITHIN THESE SIZE PARAMETERS OR THEY WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU. To make a double thick potholder, crochet the same pattern twice, or do a fancy side and a plain side, then join at the edge. Please make your potholders at a reasonably tight gauge. We don’t want burned fingers!
We’ll be using 100% cotton yarns exclusively. No blends, please.
Label each pad/holder with maker and care instructions. Feel free to include yarn and pattern info. Affix the label with a safety pin or tie it on. No straight pins, please. We had a lot of trouble with labels coming off during the first swap. We don’t want to accidentally send you one of your own potholders.
These are absolute requirements and if you don’t follow them, you won’t be able to swap.
The Actual Swapping:
After the potholders are received, your hosts are going to get together and have a grand time looking at all of your gorgeous work and selecting 5 different beauties to send back to you.
The goal of this swap is to produce and receive little pieces of crocheted art. Use beautiful yarns, color combinations, and patterns. Don’t feel pressured to use teensy little crochet cotton. Thicker cottons like Tahki Cotton Classic, Rowan Cotton Glace, and Elann Sonata make great potholders. Have a ton of fun.
Postage + Envelope:
US participants need to include a self-addressed, postage-paid, large First Class Envelope. You will have to provide your own Self-Addressed Stamped (Non-Priority) envelope. The current first class rate for a large envelope weighing up to 13 oz. is $3.75 (please note that this has changed from the original posting). We will make sure all packages stay under 13 oz. so that we’re sure your postage is covered. You will have to purchase the stamp(s) to cover this. Postal regulations have changed since the last swap, so to be sure you receive your package, we require first class envelopes only.
Non-US swappers, the only way for us to collect postage fees from you is PayPal. We expect packages to weigh under 10 oz., so postage should be between $4 and $8, depending on where you live. You must include your email address ON the outside of your package, with your address, so that we may email you for your postage fees. If you don’t, we won’t be able to contact you and send your package back.

My Potholders:
The five potholders I crocheted follow the basic rules: they are all of the same pattern and they are made of 100 percent cotton. The pattern is a variation of the Gahaelkelte Topflappen pattern. If would like more info on this pattern, tips, versions, etc. Click Here. This will also direct you to a site that translates the pattern from German to English. I changed the number of petals or spires from 16 to 14 because that worked best for me. I find 16 seems crowded and doesn't lay as flat as I would like. I used Tahki Cotton Classic and Omega Sinfonia to make the potholders and size F and G hooks.

In keeping with the German name of the original pattern, I asked my oldest son, Brian, who speaks German to tell me what Flower Potholder would be in that language and he emailed me "Blumentopflappen." That's what I decided to call this variation.

Swap organizers have emphasized that labels or tags need to be secure. In past years when tags came off potholders they found it difficult to match them with the potholders. I decided to make sure the tags were secured but in addition I made tags that included a photo of the five potholders on them so a visual connection was easily made just in case one came loose. I also used matching ribbon on the tags the same color as the center and edge of each potholder. That is, if the potholder had a yellow center and edging, then the attaching ribbon was yellow. Here is a picture of the potholder backs with the tags attached. I also added some visual and textural interest to the tags by applying a product called Glossy Accents to the picture of the five potholders.

April 27, 2011
I received my five potholders today back from the swap. Here is the photo.

Potholder 1: Starting at the top with the bright colored red, orange and hot pink one, the tag only indicates the maker's first and last names and from Seattle. By checking on the potholder group site I found that her ravelry name is schnitzel. Rather than give her real name, I am including her pseudonym. I understand the pattern name of this potholder is called "Kaleiscope." The yarn feels like Peaches and Creme or Sugar 'n Cream.

Potholder 2: Continuing clockwise, the potholder with the white background and red center was made by sonjar (her ravelry name) from Albany, OH in the African flower design on the front with a bobble shell edging to join the front and back. The back uses the same colors as the front but is more of a plain hexagon design in tight sc's. Sonjar used Reynolds Saucy Sport, 100% mercerized cotton.

Potholder 3: Next is a potholder by Melissa who gives a web address of oceaniaknits (hard to read but I think that's it) on the tag. Neither the pattern name nor the type of cotton used was included. This potholder is the one in maroon, dark plum and off white colors.

Potholder 4: The potholder that is in a granny square-type design and featuring bright yellow as the predominant color, was made by pawsandknit. She used Scheepjes Granada cotton to make this potholder.

Potholder 5: Unfortunately this last potholder, the one with the medium blue edge and dark blue center, has a tag without anything written on it: no name, no yarn, no pattern name. Ironically, I recognize the pattern as one that I originated and which I call the Ripple Potholder. This pattern and many variations, tips, colors and embellishments can be found on my blog. UPDATE: "smacklet" recognized the potholder and messaged me that "I can't believe I did that!" (attached a blank tag) So the mystery is solved. 


  1. Wow, the potholders are beautiful.

  2. Hello, by doing some investigation, potholder #1 is the kaleidoscope by Cynthia Matthews and the project pages says Lily' Sugar n Cream

    Nice variety that was sent back to you!