Grandma’s Potholders

My grandmother, June Glaser, kind of was a big deal. She crochet and sewed like a madwoman. I however, was more interested in worms, bugs and playing outside. Oh sure, Grandma made cool stuff, curly cues and little dresses for me, but I was a tomboy. My favorite was when she fixed the hell* out of my jeans. Then I could go ride bikes and look for frogs and get dirty. She had all boys, all sons and my uncles and my dad taught me that life was fun getting dirty.

*literally fixed the hell out of my jeans. like, satan himself would have had trouble getting through her patchwork.

When I got older, I started to appreciate her craft more. My brain suddenly realized that she had made things, by her own hand. That was important. She made herself skirts mostly and a bit of crochet here and there. She taught me how to chain stitch in crochet, but I think I was like 6 and again, more interested in climbing trees. But there was one thing, one mountain of thing that she made that every single family member had to the point that I was shocked when I realized not every household in the world had them…

Crochet potholders.

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a meager few of my collection…

She had a ball of yarn and a potholder going wherever she went. She had a literal stack of them, taller than me that she would give away to everyone. When I moved out, question 1 was “What color potholders do you want?”

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the answer was red and black. my kitchen was adorable. 

Not only are they the most beautiful potholders ever, they are functional. I’ve seen people use inferior potholders and burn themselves. Not so with Grandma’s!

I never really thought about replicating them until I was at a bridal shower for a friend and she got a cast iron skillet and…ready? A granny square. It was the “potholder”. Like, the gift giver said it was the potholder. For the skillet. Raise your hand if you know how amazingly hot a cast iron skillet gets? Now raise your hand if you would use a single layer granny square (with the holes and double crochets, mind you) to pick up said skillet. Jokes on you, if you did that, you wouldn’t have a hand to raise because it would be BURNED THE HELL OFF.

One of my pet peeves with crafting is function and form. Yes, I want something pretty, but it has to function as intended. I’m not making an apron with holes in it, I want a sturdy apron. I’m not making a blanket that is super short, I need a big enough blanket. I’m not putting glitter and stuff in my soap, I want it to just be soap. It has to have a purpose. I tell everyone that I will repair any gifts I give them because I want them to be used. Beat them up. Get em dirty.

So I took a good hard look at the potholders.

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starting chain?

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sewn together?

wpid-20140716_112527.jpgsee how it folds?

I noodled around with it for a while, racking my brain. These are some well loved potholders. It looked like they were worked in a round. And then I remembered:

THE INTERNET.

You know? The amazing interwebs that have more than just pictures of cats? I went over to the crochet group I follow on Facebook and armed with pictures and whatever information I had and in, I kid you not, 40 seconds I had like 8 replies. Three videos and several links. I’m okay with patterns, so I went with the written link. Oh man, it’s easy as pie.

CROCHET FOLDED POTHOLDER. Now, I prefer Grandma’s Magic Awesome Potholders That Are Better Than Yours, so that’s what I’m calling them. Judging that the pattern is pretty much everywhere (unbeknownst to me) I feel okay with that. I’ve already made 3 and I am working on a fourth.

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angie helped. as usual.

*Aside, ever since Angie got her bad teeth pulled, this happens:

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LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m yarn bombing. With potholders. I’ve already attacked two of my friends. Third one is getting bombed tonight.

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stitch faster!!!!!

The pattern is an excellent yarn eater, it takes about a 1oo yards? I’m guessing. I timed how long they take to make and it is about an hour and 40 minutes. So goodbye, yarn hoard! Hello potholder bombs! I hope you take a chance and make at least one of these, they are amazingly useful and hold up well to abuse and washing!

Tunic Tantrums

I made a tunic! Whoot!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgthis is a representation of how annoyed I was by the end of it.

Ok, truth time. I really, really like it. It fits great, it’s adorable, but the pattern and the instructions gave me fits! I did learn a few things, which I am going to share with you guys of course.

wpid-20140223_163313.jpgit did not include a pattern. so i had to cut my own. freestyle!

This set of instructions did not include a pattern, but as it was basically squares and rectangles, I managed all right. I just drew a few lines in the appropriate areas and cut it out. Thankfully, the bust was measured out so I knew, for sure, I was a small. The only sewing tip I ever apparently picked up from my grandmother was MAKE IT TEN SIZES TOO BIG JUST IN CASE. I was able to argue myself out of upping it a size.

wpid-20140223_165425.jpgI need to rename the sewing machine. it’s name is Rachel. No offense to Rachel’s.

The instructions included diagrams, which I found largely unhelpful.

wpid-20140223_170357.jpgyou can tell my skill level by the completely not straight seam.

wpid-20140223_185757.jpg“mom? did the book poop on the rug? is that why you are so mad?”

But I did learn things! Yeah! For one, I learned why there was a paint can opener included in my grandmother’s sewing cabinet.

wpid-20140223_180922.jpgJune Dorothy was way too practical to have put this here for no reason…

wpid-20140223_180844.jpgohhhhhh, that, that just makes too much sense.

wpid-20140223_180907.jpgeasy as pie way to turn things inside right. I knew my instinct to take “anything near the sewing machine” was the best bet.

When I first got the machine, I found a walnut picker thing. I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what they are called, but I know you use them to pick walnuts out of shells.

wpid-20140223_180939.jpgone of these. ya’ll know it wasn’t there to pick walnuts.

wpid-20140223_180956.jpgBOOM! goes right through the sticker on thread spools.

So that is just fantastic right there. Anyway, more on the Tunic Tantrum…

wpid-20140223_171823.jpgthe back. this is how i really felt.

wpid-20140223_181522.jpgwhy would grandma have a million small weights and a 6″ ruler…oh…oooohhhhhh…

Finally, I stopped taking pictures and got to work. All in all, it took about 5 hours of tantrums, but I finished it! And it looks cute as pie!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgsorry, angry face. long night.

I would post some close ups on the details, but I really, really did not do that neat of a job. It looks really cute, but if you get up close you can see where I should have hid some stitches there, or sewn a little straighter here. I might go back and fiddle with it, but I AM NOT DETERRED!

wpid-20140224_175035.jpgummm, yeah, I bought two more fabrics for two more tops…

I did forget thread. D’oh!

IT LIVES!

Meet my grandmother’s Singer Athena 2000:

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first brought into the house.

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wpid-20140112_194348.jpgall pictures must include a greyhound

She is a beauty, isn’t she? I intended to bring her home with me a long time ago, as my grandmother, June, passed 6 years ago and my brother has been living in her house, but as I have only moved out of my apartment into my home with my fiance for a only a few years, this was the first opportunity to bring her home.

Of course, I discovered the original bill of sale, December 20th, 1976:

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Complete with her immaculate cursive handwriting at the bottom, in case she needed to remember the exact name of the machine.

And, surely, Grandma June kept the manual!:

wpid-20140113_090315.jpgThree cocktails later:

wpid-20140112_194437.jpgagain, there’s a greyhound. also, i’m wearing my ancient aliens shirt. duh.

Finally got brave enough to turn it on. Plug it in, flip the power switch, and…

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it’s got a little light blub. oh, and we found at least 15 extra bulbs. ya know, just in case. i don’t even want to tell you how many sewing needles we found…

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it even does…puppy stitches…so, puppies…

IT LIVES!! IT SEWS!!!!

So this morning I get to clean her up (sans cocktail) and get it somewhat positioned in the room. I can’t wait to take it for it’s first spin, but there’s a lot of noodling around I need to do first. For now, she’s all tidied up at put away:

wpid-20140113_093044.jpgyes…sleep while you can…