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Turkey Tracks: Knitting Selvage Placemats

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December 21, 2016

Knitting Selvage Placemats

There are TWO selvages on any width of fabric.

(Fat quarters have just one.)

One selvage can be colorful with round dots to show the different dyes, cool sayings, the name of the fabric, the name of the designer, and so forth.  Indeed, fabric makers are getting quite creative with these selvages now as quilters are making all sorts of products using them, including dramatic and gorgeous quilts.

When I first started quilting over 20 years ago, we were always cautioned NOT to use the selvage as the selvage was “different” than the fabric and would not handle or wash the same way.  So, we just threw them away.

The OTHER selvage is often plain, and for years I’ve thought about what might be done with those.

I’ve tried knitting old t-shirt strips.  They are ok, but a bit thick.  I have a small rug upstairs made from t-shirt strips.  It sits under the dog bowls.

BUT, what about these OTHER selvages?

I cleaned some up, which means getting the ripping threads under control, and looped enough together to make a long, continuous strand.


Time has shown that making LOTS of long strands is better than trying to make one large ball.  It’s easy enough to attach new ones.  I also learned to loop the long strands together and to wrap them into a loose knot so they don’t tangle and retangle with the other long strands in the bottom of my knitting bag.Here is the first placemat, completed this week:


Not bad.  I got a big crochet hook and went around the edges with a single stitch just to refine it a big.

This lone one is very cute on my dining room table actually.  It needs some bright cloth napkins.  Aqua maybe.  Or, green.  Or red.  Whatever.

I could have also bound off the edge and turned the work, picked up stitches from the short side, and knitted there a bit.  That would have been the start of a rug I think, where I bound off and turned the work at regular intervals.  Finished panels could be joined into a bigger rug.  The Mason Dixon knitters already figured that out.   (See Kay Gardiner, Ann Shayne, MASON*DIXON KNITTING.)  (I’m sure there are earlier blog posts here on this folks.  Search on the right sidebar search button.)

But heaven knows I don’t need anymore rag rugs at the moment.  You can see earlier posts about all the rag rugs made on a primitive Appalachian hand loom–using old sheets, fabric strips, etc.

There are an astonishing number of selvages in this placemat.  I just pin the whole project to the design wall, loop new selvages over one of the knitting needles, and when I get a hunk of them, I clean them up. loop them up, and spend some time knitting them into the work.

Written by louisaenright

December 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Turkey Tracks: Ball-band Dishcloth

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Turkey Tracks:  January 9, 2011

Ball-Band Dishcloth

I finished the Ball-Band Dishcloths I talked about some time ago as an unfinished project.  I have no idea why they are called “ball band” discloths.  Maybe it’s the pattern…

I used red and green Peaches & Cream cotton for potential Christmas use–though they are looking very pretty on top of my yarn pile at the moment.  I got the pattern from Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne’s MASON-DIXON QUILTING.  But, as they note, the pattern is on the inside of the label of many of the P&C yarn balls.

Here’s what they look like:

I added the little braided end. It’s easier than weaving in all the loose ends.

These beauties hold up really well.  I have some that are three years old now and going strong.   As Gardiner and Shayne say:  THEY MUST BE USED!!!  Plus, they’re fun to make.

Written by louisaenright

January 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Turkey Tracks: Kelly’s Potholder Loops Rug

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Turkey Tracks:  December 14, 2010

Kelly’s Potholder Loops Rug

Last summer, days before the Mike and Tami Enrights were to drive back to Charleston, Kelly (5 1/2) began asking me multiple times daily to learn to knit.  I promised him I would come prepared Thanksgiving.

How to teach a younger child to knit?

I fell back on Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne, MASON-DIXON KNITTING, for ideas.  They recommend a potholder loops rug.  Aha!  All the kiddos had gotten into making potholders while they were here last summer.  Gardiner/Shayne also recommend Harrisville Looms for high quality, beautifully colored, potholder loops.  (The loops we worked with over the summer were a nightmare–poly blends that stretched all out of shape, etc.)  I went online and ordered GOBS of loops and, because they looked really good,  two high-quality boxed potholder loom/loops sets for any kiddo who wanted to make potholders.  (They would make great teacher gifts.)  I had them shipped directly to Mike and Tami.  I was ready to keep my promise to Kelly.

The loops and looms were indeed very high quality.  I HIGHLY recommend them.  The loop colors are beautiful, and you can order isolated colors if you like.

Here is a picture of our beginnings:

Along the way, we made a HUGE ball of the potholder looops–and all the kids participated in that effort.

Kelly could knit, but required supervision to ensure he didn’t drop loops, or get the needle into the wrong part of a knitted loop, and so forth.  We both liked the closeness of this collaboration.  His attention span, though, was only good for 5 or 6 stitches at a sitting.  Nevertheless, he was amazed at how his efforts made his rug grow and grow.  It grew especially at night.  So when he waked in the morning, he checked it first thing.  He decided he wanted a LONG rug to take to school for naps, and we measured and measured each day until the rug grew to be as long as he was.

Here’s the finished rug with, left to right, Bowen, Wilhelmina, Talula, and Kellly.  It is VERY hard to get four active children to sit still.  Kelly has the remnants of the loop ball we made in his hand.

Note:  You  need either VERY long needles or a circular needle of at least 25 inches, and bigger would be better.  This project would make great placemats, especially if you ordered specific potholder loop colors.  You could make potholders to go along with placemats to keep drinks off of a nice table.

Meanwhile, the kiddos first cousin Ella Monahan made a potholder and took it home to Florida with her after the holidays.

And, Bowen, who is now 7, announced he’d really like to learn to knit as well.   Tami drove, and I got him some needles and some Peaches & Cream cotton thread to make himself a yellow scarf.  He could master knitting, though he worried himself to death that he wasn’t doing it right.  But, he was.  And, he’s the only person I have ever taught that grasped the left hand European style at once.  (It’s so much faster, but harder to master.)   Bowen’s attention span was good for about a 25-stitch row.   Thus, the scarf became a wash cloth as Bowen grasped the full appreciation of his task.  And, he asked me to take it home and finish it so he could give it to neighbor Leeola, who, in her late 80s, tragically fell in her front yard and broke a hip a few days after Thanksgiving.

Here’s Bo’s washcloth finished:

These Peaches & Cream wash/dish cloths wear like iron.  I use mine all the time, and some of mine are two or three years old now.  There is a famous, fancy-looking, but easy Peaches & Cream dish cloth pattern.  It’s featured in the MASON DIXON QUILTING book and is on many of the Peaches & Cream labels.

I remember crawling into my grandmother’s bed in Reynolds, Georgia, on winter mornings.  She’d be sitting up in bed, knitting.  I can still hear the clicking sounds of her needles as I snuggled down next to her.  She made us hats and gloves and scarves, and when they would arrive at our far-flung Air Force base homes, we’d feel her love for us.  She also made us beautiful dresses on a tredle sewing machine in her bedroom and boxed them up and sent them to us.  When a box came, we could hardly wait to open it.  At that time, materials were expensive, and bought clothes very expensive–especially on Air Force officer salaries.  Later, I learned to sew on her machine.  I tell this story because these influences stuck with me and appeared down the road of my life.  I hope they do with my grands.