Crocheted place mats: Free patterns and tutorial

On this lovely Spring Friday two things happened: I caught a cold and I finished my place mats. This post is very long and it will take your browser a while to load up the photos but I hope it’s worth it. Anyway, check out my crocheted place mats. The green one is blocked and the blue one isn’t. There’s a reason for that!

You will probably notice that the unblocked place mat (the blue one) has its corners curling up a little bit and that the blocked place mat (the green one) lies perfectly flat. I’d also like you to notice that my place mats are perfect rectangles. As a matter of fact, the only actually blocking action I took on the green place mat was to steam iron around the edges. That’s what’s nice about cotton. You can iron it. Today I’m going to teach you how to make a crocheted rectangle a nicely shaped rectangle, even if it’s crocheted row-by-row and with front and back post stitches. If these place mats were just made of plain old double crochet rows, actually, they would maintain a neat rectangular shape. It’s the front and back post work that knocks the piece out of shape because they pull this way and that, causing the fabric to dip in the middle and rise higher on the outer edges. A border of single crochets stitched around the outer edges corrects this problem as does keeping the main stitch pattern framed on all sides by a few double crochet stitches, in two rows before and after as well as at the beginning and end of every row.

In my previous blog post I mentioned something about a tutorial for sewing squares together. I have decided to postpone that because this post here is quite a short book!

My hope is that you will learn something from this post and perhaps be adventurous with your crochet with the confidence of knowing that you can make a rectangle actually rectangular!

I’m not just going to teach how to do this rectangular thing, but also a lot of other things. Here’s an index of this post that will allow you to jump to the section you want.

Woven stitch place mat pattern

Waffle stitch place mat pattern

How to crochet the woven stitch

How to crochet the waffle stitch

How to crochet the single crochet border

How to design your own place mat

Woven Stitch Place Mat pattern

IMG_1292

Materials:

  • approximately 340 yards sport-weight cotton
  • crochet hook to achieve correct gauge
  • 1 stitch marker
  • measuring tape
  • notions you like to use

Gauge: 6 (5) double crochet and 2 (2) rows = 1 inch

Note: The pattern is written for two gauges, at 6 stitches per inch and 5 stitches per inch. Numbers in parentheses refer to the 5 stitches per inch gauge. The dimensions for the finished project are 16″ wide and 13″ tall.

Abbreviations used in this pattern:

ch: chain

sc: single crochet

dc: double crochet

fpdc: front post double crochet

bpdc: back post double crochet

rep: repeat

st(s): stitch(es)

sl st: slip stitch

Directions:

ch 82 (75)

Row 1: 1 dc in back loop of fourth ch from hook and in back loop of each ch across, turn. 80 (72) dc, including starting ch-3.

Row 2: ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc across, turn

Row 3: rep Row 2

Row 4: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next two dc, *1 fpdc in each of next 2 sts, 1 bpdc in each of next 2 sts, rep from * across to last 5 sts, 1 fpdc in each of next 2 sts, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, turn.

Rows 5-34: rep Row 4.

Row 35: Rep Row 2.

Row 36: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next dc to end of row, do not turn, do not break off yarn.

Border

Round 1: ch 1, rotate piece to the right so that you can see the left edge double crochets horizontally. *1 sc in head of post of first dc, 1 sc in base of post of same dc, rep from * to the corner of bottom and left edge. Rotate piece to the right so that the piece is upside-down and you are looking at the bottom edge of work which is the foundation ch. 3 sc in first foudnation ch, 1 sc in each of next foundation ch to other end of bottom edge, 3 sc in last foundation ch. Rotate piece to the right so that you are looking at the right edge and the edge double crochets are lying horizontally. *1 sc in base of post of next dc, 1 sc in head of post of same dc, rep from * to top right-hand corner. Rotate piece to the right so that you are looking at the top edge right-side up (all dc now look vertical, as they normally do). 3 sc in first dc, 1 sc in each of next dc to end of row, ending with 3 sc in last dc. Pm in first sc of 3-sc group, this is the beginning of the round.

Rounds 2-5: Continue sc around the piece, working 3 sc in each corner st  (the second st of each 3-sc group) and 1 sc in each of the other sts.

Sl st in first sc of Round 5, fasten off, weave in ends, and block if desired.

Waffle Stitch Place Mat pattern

IMG_1290

Materials:

  • approximately 340 yards sport-weight cotton
  • crochet hook to achieve correct gauge
  • 1 stitch marker
  • measuring tape
  • notions you like to use

Gauge: 6 (5) double crochet and 2 (2) rows = 1 inch

Note: The pattern is written for two gauges, at 6 stitches per inch and 5 stitches per inch. Numbers in parentheses refer to the 5 stitches per inch gauge. The dimensions for the finished project are 16″ wide and 13″ tall.

Abbreviations used in this pattern:

ch: chain

sc: single crochet

dc: double crochet

fpdc: front post double crochet

rep: repeat

st(s): stitch(es)

sl st: slip stitch

Directions:

ch 82 (75)

Row 1: 1 dc in back loop of fourth ch from hook and back loop of each ch across, turn. 80 (72) dc.

Row 2: ch 3 (counts as dc), 1 dc in each dc across, turn.

Row 3: rep Row 2.

Row 4: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next two dc, *1 fpdc in next st, 1 dc in next st, rep from * across to last 3 sts, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, turn.

Rows 5-34: rep Row 4.

Row 35: Rep Row 2.

Row 36: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next dc to end of row, do not turn, do not break off yarn.

Border

Round 1: ch 1, rotate piece to the right so that you can see the left edge double crochets horizontally. *1 sc in head of post of first dc, 1 sc in base of post of same dc, rep from * to the corner of bottom and left edge. Rotate piece to the right so that the piece is upside-down and you are looking at the bottom edge of work which is the foundation ch. 3 sc in first foudnation ch, 1 sc in each of next foundation ch to other end of bottom edge, 3 sc in last foundation ch. Rotate piece to the right so that you are looking at the right edge and the edge double crochets are lying horizontally. *1 sc in base of post of next dc, 1 sc in head of post of same dc, rep from * to top right-hand corner. Rotate piece to the right so that you are looking at the top edge right-side up (all dc now look vertical, as they normally do). 3 sc in first dc, 1 sc in each of next dc to end of row, ending with 3 sc in last dc. Pm in first sc of 3-sc group, this is the beginning of the round.

Rounds 2-5: Continue sc around the piece, working 3 sc in each corner st  (the second st of each 3-sc group) and 1 sc in each of the other sts.

Sl st in first sc of Round 5, fasten off, weave in ends, and block if desired.

How to crochet the woven stitch

In my pattern for the Woven Stitch Place Mat  the instructions for the fourth row, which is repeated, reads as follows: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next two dc, *1 fpdc in each of next 2 sts, 1 bpdc in each of next 2 sts, rep from * across to last 5 sts, 1 fpdc in each of next 2 sts, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, turn.

Begin the row with a chain-3 and two double crochets, like this:

Photo Apr 13, 3 45 41 PM

Now we have to stitch two front-post double crochets (fpdc). This stitch is worked around the post of the dc from the previous row. To do this, yarn over, then insert your hook, from front to back, through the space to the right of the dc post you want to stitch on and then push the hook through the space to the left of the dc post you want to stitch on:

Photo Apr 13, 3 46 11 PM

Now, yarn over and pull up a loop, it will be wrapped around the post of the dc:

Photo Apr 13, 3 46 31 PM

From here, it’s just like a normal dc: yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook, and yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook again.

Repeat this procedure around the post of the next dc. You will now have two front-post double crochet stitches completed.

Now we need to stitch two back-post double crochets. To do this, yarn over and then, working from back to front, push the hook through the space to the right of the dc post you want to stitch around and then push the hook into the space to the left, like this:

Photo Apr 13, 3 48 26 PM

Yarn over, pull up a loop around the post, and you will have this:

Photo Apr 13, 3 48 55 PM

Now work your double crochet stitch as usual. Repeat this procedure once more around the post of the next double crochet stitch.

That’s all there is to it! Now, continue working across your row, crocheting 2 fpdc and 2 bpdc to the last three stitches. The last two post stitches you work should be front-post double crochets.You will have this:

Photo Apr 13, 5 21 08 PM

Now work a normal dc in each of the next three dc. One row repeat is now complete:

Photo Apr 13, 5 22 16 PM

It is now time to turn your work and keep going, repeating the same row over and over again until you have completed Row 34.

How to crochet the Waffle Stitch

In my pattern for the Waffle Stitch Place Mat, the fourth row reads as follows: ch 3, 1 dc in each of next two dc, *1 fpdc in next st, 1 dc in next st, rep from * across to last 3 sts, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, turn

So, first, start your row by chaining three and stitching two double crochets, as for the Woven Stitch Place Mat. Around the post of the next double crochet you need to stitch a front-post double crochet. Do as in the Woven Stitch tutorial but only stitch one fpdc. In the next dc you stitch a normal dc. Your row in progress will look like this:

Photo Apr 13, 3 04 04 PM

Now, you just repeat this sequence to the last 3 stitches, in which you stitch 3 dc (1 in each). If you decide to use a different number of stitches for a starting chain just remember that every time you turn your work you will see normal dc and bpdc along your row (the reverse side of an fpdc is a bpdc). To create the pattern you must normal dc into the post stitches and fpdc on the normal stitches you see.

How to crochet the border around your place mat

The single crochet border is worked the same way for both place mats. In the pattern, when you crochet your final row, the instructions tell you not to turn and not to cut your yarn. So don’t! Instead you chain 1 and rotate your work to the right to prepare to single crochet around the side edge. Here’s what your first few sc look like:

Photo Apr 14, 2 23 53 PM

As you can see, working sideways, you sc into the head and base of each dc, including the one over which you have worked a ch-1. If your dc is actually a chain, just work an sc into each of two chains (the ones that haven’t been stitched into in rows of dc). If you wish, you can study the photos and read the captions to see how to insert the hook into these sideways stitches

You keep working your single crochets down the side of the place mat until you get to the lower corner, which is the first chain of your starting chain. Work three single crochets in that first chain of the starting chain. It should be easy to do because the pattern told you to crochet into the back loops of the starting chain so all you do is push your hook under the “v” shapes that mark the bottom edge.

Photo Apr 14, 3 21 10 PM

Now all you do is work sc into each chain of your starting chain to the next corner, where you will work three sc stitches again. Then work up the side following the pattern directions. Work all subsequent rounds making sure you work 3 sc in each corner, as the pattern tells you. Also, don’t forget to place a marker to easily remember where the beginning of your round is:

Photo Apr 14, 3 42 57 PM

How to design your own place mat

You may think that math is the most important thing to know about when you are getting ready to design something like this. It is important, but I think it competes with other things for priority, especially when you’re in the mood for using texture in your crochet, like with these place mats.

Really, the first thing you should do is try out a stitch pattern with an appropriate yarn and hook. How does it look? Does it lie flat? Is it out of shape? If the piece isn’t the desired shape you’ll need to add some “padding” to your work. You’ll notice in my pattern I have my post double crochet work bordered by plain double crochet stitches all around. You start by crocheting three rows of plain double crochet and then in the patterned rows there are three plain stitches at the beginning and the end. Then after the patterned rows there are two more rows of plain double crochet stitches.

The “padding” strategy may be enough to make your piece hold its shape. If it isn’t, you can try what I did and add a border. Single crochet is a good choice for a border because it’s sturdy, but don’t leave it there if you don’t want to. After crocheting a couple of rounds of single crochet stitches around the piece to give it stability you can add a fancier border.

The math comes in when it’s time to crochet your project. Here’s an example of how I did it for these place mat patterns:

First of all, I wanted to use two sport-weight yarns that were slightly different in thickness. One gave me a gauge of six stitches per inch and the other gave me five.

It’s a good idea to base your gauge on something normal, like dc or sc, because post stitches are quite varied.

After I got my different gauges I decided on my dimensions. My place mats are 16 inches wide by 13 inches tall. I subtracted an inch for the border and got my numbers by multiplying my gauge per inch by the desired width.

It’s also good to calculate to add or subtract stitches to make for an easy row repeat. The woven stitch pattern is a multiple of four stitches. On each row you have to fbdc in every bpdc and you have to bpdc in every fpdc that you see. So, I made sure my pattern repeated over a multiple of six, that way I could just repeat the same row over and over. The waffle stitch pattern is a multiple of two so that was easy to work in.

You have get the number of foundation chains by remembering that the first dc is really a ch-3. So, if you want, for example, your work to be 80 stitches wide, subtract 1 from 80 and then add 3: 80-1=79. 79+3=82.

Really, that’s it! I’m sure you can adapt my place mat patterns to your own needs without any headaches if you want to, or come up with your own place mat pattern. Please share it if you do, I’d love to see it.

Pattern or tutorial?

It’s WIP Wednesday! I have totally abandoned my knitting momentarily and have started crocheting some things with cotton. I’ve made up these things on my own and now I’m wondering what to do for FO Friday. I mean, they’re more than likely going to be done by Friday. I can’t decide if Friday will usher in a couple of patterns or a “how to.”

The things I’m crocheting are place mats. I’m tired of buying them and trashing them so I decided to make a bunch of them in 100% cotton. My plan is to binge on this crocheting activity and stockpile them. Place mats eventually bite the dust and we use place mats every day at my house for a variety of reasons, one of them being that a table cloth is not helpful for our quotidian habits. You see, store bought place mats are often made with synthetic materials which means they stain pretty much permanently and live shorter lives. Cotton can be washed and chances of stain removal are far better, which means they will last longer and in turn I’ll get more for my dollar, I mean Euro. Here’s my progress on a green one and a blue one:

There is really nothing special about these. They’re crocheted rectangles. Which brings me to a funny anecdote and the reason why I can’t decide if I want to write up a pattern or a “how to.”

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I met up for coffee and we were looking at crochet patterns on my friend’s phone and we were laughing at a lot of them saying, “That pattern costs €7? Seriously? I can make that without the pattern!” We said that about a lot of the things we saw, which included some baby clothes, a baby blanket, and some place mats. Consequently, I am absolutely uncertain about whether or not I should write a row-by-row pattern to show people how to crochet some monochrome place mats to lay on a table under a plate. I most certainly wouldn’t charge any money for such a pattern (never mind €7, ridiculous) but I keep thinking about how it isn’t necessary to write a pattern for such a thing. And then, we must remember that I only write a pattern if I think it could help somebody. A pattern for some rectangles isn’t all that helpful. Finally, I remember Elizabeth Zimmerman and how she wrote up knitting patterns and other directions. Her books definitely instilled in me a certain independent confidence about my knitting and, by extension, crochet. (Anecdote: the first yarn craft I learned was actually crochet, I learned to knit about ten years after that).

A “how to” post would probably be more useful. Leave the gauge up to the crocheter and focus on more important points: how to make the rectangle actually be a flat-lying rectangle despite the fact that the main stitch patterns are dense front-post and back-post double crochets which distort shapes, and how to make the rectangle be its shape without having to block the living daylights out of it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d find a place mat very helpful for everyday use if I had to starch it, dry it flat and pin it carefully like a splayed-out taxidermy project, to only then iron it, just so it could be laid out on a table waiting for food to spill onto it.

Not to mention, I was quite clever and used a pattern to manufacture one of my place mats, which is in fact finished. I made some squares from a book about motifs and crochet patterns and sewed them together in a clever way that I could include in a “how to” but not a strict pattern.

I think I just wrote my way through a self-convincing post about how I’m going to write up a “how to” about how to crochet practical place mats for everyday use instead of writing up a pattern with a set gauge, recommended yarn, row-by-row boredom, and so on. This calls for a “how to,” right? If it doesn’t, please let me know. The more I write this the more I feel the spirit of Zimmerman and her pithy directions for knitting. I’d just be sourcing this spirit for crochet. Did you know that Elizabeth Zimmerman was of the opinion that crochet had no place in knitting? Ironic, considering that she has impacted my attitude about patterns in general, knitting, crochet, or not!

By the way, last week I was browsing through my magazines looking for place mat patterns and I actually found one that called for merino wool. Can you imagine? Merino wool place mats. Yeah, that’s not going to happen at my house, not even if everyone at the table maintains their pinkies extended throughout the entire meal. How about at yours?

I don’t think I should write a formal pattern for these place mats. There’s nothing special about them. Yet again, a pattern would be helpful for new crocheters, right? I think I’m back to where I started. I can’t decide.

Between the WIPs

I’m still working on the same old WIPs. It’s been getting a bit dull so I decided to whip out my Lily cotton and make a potholder. It’s crocheted and woven and it’s fun to make.

The pattern is from Simply Crochet issue 56, 2017. I did not use the recommended yarn or colors so, as you can see, this pattern works great if you use a self-striping or variegated yarn.

It’s very fun to make this potholder while watching TV. The strips that you weave together are just three rows of single crochet. The backing is also just a square of single crochet. Putting it all together is also fun and there is no sewing to do at all. A great break from the same old WIPs.

The end of the sweater binge

Since November 2016 I have finished five adult-sized sweaters. I still have yarn to make more sweaters but I think I’m going to take a break from them for a while. Never in my knitting and crochet life have I ever finished one sweater a month until now. I feel pretty accomplished but also ready to take on smaller projects for a few months. The end of sweater binge happened last week, on March 30, when I finished my oak Alec XL. Today I finally got around to taking a photo of it. Check it out, along with a pic of me wearing it with a smile. 🙂

Expanding the afghan

The WIP activity is pretty slow going this week, although I did finally manage to weave in the ends on my oak colored Alec XL sweater. It’s drying right now (I washed it this morning!). As my sweater dries and slowly transforms into an FO why don’t we have a look at my Tunisian crochet afghan? It’s getting bigger because I had plenty of time to work on it over the weekend.

On the left you can see how big it’s getting. Basically, I’ve finished the entire pattern, which is for a baby blanket. I don’t have any babies to wrap up in this, so I’m continuing to crochet more all around it until it’s big enough for an adult. I’ve decided to alternate different colors round and round until it’s big enough.

New page dedicated to how-to’s

My WIPs are mostly the same on the knitting and crochet front. The blue lace scarf is longer and so is the Tunisian crochet afghan. My oak-colored Alec XL has half a sleeve done and I’ve advanced on my two pairs of socks, both of which are now on the-leg-of-the-second-sock stage.

This blog, though, is turning into a WIP. If you navigate to the home page for The Yarn Blabber you will see a new button labeled “HOW-TO’S” in which all of the tutorials or instructions for techniques and methods I ever posted can be easily navigated. I spent a great deal of time sifting through all of my blog posts to find all the ones I ever wrote that are “instructive,” in other words, that don’t really offer a pattern but rather a way of doing particular things. As I sifted through my posts I thought about ideas for new categories. In the future I think I’ll do some combing to make a page dedicated to food, another to patterns, and another perhaps to tips and advice. I only see one tutorial, or how-to, overlapping with a patterns category and that would be the tutorial on designing your own cowl, which came with a pattern included in the tutorial to show how all the math and stitch pattern decisions work together. Not a huge mystery, really, but I thought it would be helpful to grasp the concepts.

As I went about reading my four-year history I did notice that I have indeed offered plenty of free patterns to try out. I think a list of those will be my top priority for the near future (next time I have an hour to focus on it).

An octopus for a preemie

octopus

It’s Friday so it’s time to show off finished objects. The knitting club I participate in has decided to get on the octopus amigurumi craze that began in Denmark. Apparently, premature babies are happier when they have a stuffed octopus with them in the incubator. They grab the tentacles instead of grabbing whatever tubes are connected to their little fragile bodies. There is no hard scientific evidence to demonstrate that these cute stuffed toys make any real difference for the tiny babies, but health care workers rave about the benefits and are asking for them. Some hospitals, in fact, have been accumulating a supply of them for future preemies. If doctors and nurses can casually observe a real difference in the babies’ lives then why not do it? Chicken soup may not cure a common cold, but we like it when we’re feeling under the weather. Besides, the explanation about why the octopuses help preemies survive in their incubators is a lot more logical than any explanation about how chicken soup can shorten a common cold. So, check out my octopus amigurumi! It’s pretty happy but somewhat sleepy.

If you would like to crochet an octopus for a preemie, I say go for it! You can actually find a group in your country on Facebook. They’re popping up all over Facebook, actually. There is an official pattern to follow for this cause as well as a list of materials you can use. I followed all of my instructions and warnings in Spanish because I’m crocheting octopuses for my local hospital here in Valladolid, so you can also do the same for your country’s language and location. For more information, just follow this link: https://www.spruttegruppen.dk/danish-octo-project-english/

It took me about four hours to make my octopus, which I think is very little time spent in comparison to the difference it will make in a prematurely born baby’s life, don’t you?