Since I’ve allowed myself to consider myself a designer (yep, that took a while because I have absolutely no formal fashion, drawing, or art background whatsoever and feel intimidated by all those fabulous designers out there), my mind has become incredibly creative. It’s like a curtain has been lifted and a whole new exciting and scary world has opened up to me. I can barely keep up with my ideas and my “design”/scribble notebooks are starting to line up on my bookshelf…
Funny enough though, the latest idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a while now is not in any of these notebooks at all! It seems like the idea needed to stew a bit until all the ingredients had assembled and finally fused together.
A prompt from the Designer’s Challenge Ravlery group’s Nov-Dec challenge for a felted hotpad was the starting point, then in the following weeks lots of great home-cooked food and not having enough hotpads to place the pots and hot serving dishes on sensitive table surfaces made it a desirable necessity, and the wish for a white Christmas and some cold wintry temperatures gave it the theme.
I was thinking of a felted hotpad with a snowflake design and bobbles sprinkled throughout to help diffuse the heat… It sounded like fun, and when I needed a break from tech editing, I went to work to see if it indeed was a viable design idea.
I browsed through my pattern books for some snowflake ideas, pulled out some Patons Classic Worsted wool in the colors “Aran” and “Royal Blue” from my stash (what a good girl I was) and was ready to go when all kinds of decisions had to be made:
Is single-stranded going to be thick/big enough?
With the design having roughly about 30 sts across and the ball band listing 20 sts = 4″ that would make a 6″ wide hotpad – before felting. Oops, too small!
Double-stranded it was.
What needle size should I pick?
From previous experiences, I knew that the fabric had to be on the looser side than usual for it to felt more easily. Or, as it was once explained to me, the fiber needs space to tango aka felt.
US #10½ (6.5 mm) needles should fit the bill.
Where should I place the bobbles?
I decided to place some bobbles around the center for smaller pots and additional ones in a larger circle for larger pots.
What color should the fore/background color be?
Thinking about how the pad would be used, I knew that the bottom of the pots could sometimes be dirty from the burner of the stove so that the darker color for the majority of the bobbles the pot would be resting on would be the smarter choice.
Blue for the foreground color, white for the background color.
I was ready to jump in and start with the knitting.
Not surprising, things did not quite work out as sketched and I had to undo a row a couple of times because I did not like the bobble placement. As it turns out, the bobbles always leaned down below the row they were created on so that the bobbles needed to be worked a row later than what I expected. Once I’ve adjusted my chart, the bobbles now looked somewhat mirrored and evenly spaced. The final knitted (pre-felted) size ended up being an about 9½” square.
Since this was such a small item, I decided to hand felt it for a nearly instant gratification. I filled a basinette with hot water, added a dash of dish soap, put on thick rubber gloves and started to abuse the poor hotpad. At first the fabric always relaxes and grows to nearly double its size (first ~5 min), always making me doubt that this will work. During the next 5 minutes the fibers start to get tangled and in the last 5 minutes they get so felted that it’s hard to make out the individual stitches. That’s the stage I wanted to get to for this hotpad.
After a quick rinse in cold water (to set the fibers) and a short spin on the spin cycle of my washing machine (to get rid of as much excess water as possible), the hotpad felt nearly dry already and was ready to be coaxed into its final shape. If you have wavy edges, use a piece of yarn that won’t discolor when wet and sew a running stitch along the edge and gather the felted fabric to the desired width. Let it dry completely before you remove the helper yarn. In my case, the hotpad shrank to an about 7½” square. So that’s a loss of about 20% in size when felted.
And there I had my own Bobble Snowflake Hotpad. A great little project that can be easily completed in half a day.