My Material Life

Let’s Weave Again – Revisiting the Potholder Loom

I’ve been upgrading things around the house lately and new potholders were in order so I decided to bring my potholder loom out of retirement. While I like the idea of an oven mitt, loom-woven cotton squares are my potholders of choice. I like the feel of them and I like their size (5.5″ sq). I keep them on the counter within easy reach of the stove/oven so the fact that they look nice is an added bonus.

This time around I wanted to try some different colors and designs on my loom so I bought the loop color card from Harrisville Designs (the maker of my loom) to help me determine which solid colors I wanted to add to the collection of mixed colors I’d already purchased with my loom. So worth it, such beautiful colors … and look at all the neutrals. There’s nothing like a neutral color to give a loom-woven potholder a hint of sophistication. That’s what I was going for with my first design. It’s woven with flax loops with the exception of just one yellow loop used for a single running stripe. I love this one. I can see a set of three, each with a different colored stripe.

And yet it’s so hard to resist the allure of color, so this next design plays with a bit more stripes in two similar but different ones, salmon and pink.

Well why stop at two colors when there are so many? A rainbow of stripes could be just what the doctor ordered for the dreary month of January.

Have you ever used one of these looms? It’s a pretty straightforward process. You place your warp loops on the pegs, stretching from top to bottom and then weave your weft loops under and over the warp loops from side to side. The three potholders shown above were woven with different warp stripe patterns while only flax-colored loops were used for the weft rows.

Each row of weft loops needs to be woven in the opposite manner of the row before it and the row after it. That is to say, if your first row of weft weaving begins by going over and then under, then your next row of weaving must begin by going under and then over. Your loom will probably come with a hook to help you weave. To use it, weave it through your warp loops from right to left (or left to right if you prefer) as shown in the photo above.

When you get all the way through the loops with your hook to the left side, attach a weft loop to it and pull it through all the way back across (don’t forget to attach it to its left peg before pulling all the way). Then fasten the loop to its peg on the right side. Or you can use your hands to weave; I’ve done it that way too.

When all of your loops are on the loom it’s time to bind off. Starting in the upper right corner, slip off the first two loops from their pegs. Use a crochet hook to pull the second loop through the first. Then keep working to the left and pulling each successive loop through the loop on your crochet hook. Do that all the way around and you’ll end up with one loop left – your hanging loop. Pull that one back and through the loop (now looks like a crochet chain) it’s coming out of to the front. Pull it up to secure it. And here’s an important tip I found in one of my Harrisville instruction pamphlets: if you keep your bound off edges attached to the loom by stretching (a crochet hook helps) one of the bound-off loops in the center of the side to a loom peg it will be much easier to bind off the last edge. If you don’t do this, the loops on the last edge will just jump off the loom, making that edge difficult to finish.

Here are two more potholders with a similar but different two-color scheme in peacock and green. I found both patterns in the Harrisville instructions I received with my loom and loops. For the first potholder both the warp and the weft loops are divided evenly between your two colors.

The second striped potholder is made by alternating peacock and green loops on both the warp and the weft as shown below.

Do visit the Harrisville Designs website to see all that their company – started in 1971 to keep the textile tradition alive in southwestern New Hampshire – has to offer. Be sure to check out their Potholder Pattern Wizard too. Who knew there were so many design possibilities? Harrisville Designs equals quality in looms and loops. And your purchase is a vote to keep that American textile tradition going.

Happy weaving!

18 comments

  1. When I saw your post appear in my feed, I felt a rush of excitement. See, I had a potholder loom when I was a little girl, and I absolutely adored it. Many years later while moving, I gave it away, thinking I had outgrown the brightly-colored sock loops and rust-colored loom. But reading your post today, I remembered how much I loved using it. Thank you! I’m inspired! 🙂

  2. Sandy Castillo

    I remember making these as a kid and selling them around the neighborhood for a quarter. I don’t know what ever happened to my loom so I need to purchase a new one. What is the best size to use? I love your designs.

    • Thank you so much – what a cool childhood memory! Good question about the size. Harrisville Designs says their traditional size potholder loom makes 6×6″ potholders and that their pro size makes 8×8″ potholders. I have the traditional size and the potholders do shrink up a bit with washing. I wash mine in the machine and then air dry them on the counter. They’re now more like 5″ squares. That’s still a functional size for me, so I guess it just boils down to individual preference. Have fun getting reacquainted with whichever loom you choose 🙂

  3. Laurel K Lewis

    I love my loom and loops from Harrisville Designs. The color combinations you’ve used give me good ideas. Making potholders is such a relaxing activity for me. The repetitive over-under, over-under movements calm my 65-year-old soul. Seeing the beautiful end products is incredibly satisfying. I give my potholders, usually in color bunches of two or four, to my exercise friends, the mailman, my hair stylist, the pharmacist, the librarian,…the list is endless. They are a wonderful and much-appreciated surprise as a hostess gift. At family get-togethers, I often bring a bunch of potholders, place them in a large bowl, and let family members pick out a couple to take home. During this confusing coronavirus stay-at-home time, I’ve kept busy. Placing another order for loops today!

    • Go Laurel! You are an inspiration. I’ve been busy knitting baby booties for neighbors, but I want to try weaving potholders on a cardboard loom next. We’ll see how it goes. Enjoy your new Harrisville loops and thanks for writing 🙂

  4. Krysia K

    Love the pot holders! I’m in the UK and haven’t heard of potholder looms but will certainly see if they’re available over here. Your colour combinations are very cheerful.

    • That’s so interesting Krysia. I assumed potholder looms were not unique to the US, but I just looked up the history and see that they came about in the US in the 1930s as a way to use up loops of fabric leftover from sock mills. Good luck with your search there and thanks so much for visiting and commenting 🙂 Colleen

      • Krysia K

        Hi Colleen
        That is very interesting indeed and would explain why pot holders aren’t used much here – no-one made them 🙂 We tend to use oven gloves/mitts.
        I’ve emailed a British sock manufacturer to ask if they’ve heard of anything similar and if their process produces surplus loops. I suspect that in the USA the loops are now made specifically for the looms and not from remnants.
        Krysia

      • Oh yes Krysia I think you’re right. You can also create loops from old T-shirts if you are so inclined. I show a T-shirt I turned into a potholder in a post called Recycled T-Shirt Potholder; there is a link to the instructions in the post. Would love to know if you here back from the sock manufacturer – Colleen

  5. Harla Hagen

    I didn’t find a picture of the cotton loops for potholders nor information showing their cost! I don’t have a computer or printer so downloading a catalog is not an option.

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