At first glance this week’s project may look like just another boring potholder, but looks, as we all know, can be deceiving.
If you’ve gotten past the photographs and read this far, read on — this just may turn out to be one of your all-time favorite projects.
First of all, it’s not a potholder, but let’s go back a few days to the moment when inspiration struck.
While strolling down an aisle in the grocery store, we spied a package of four circles. “Huh,” we said under our breath, “that looks just like the nonslip cushioned liner we have on several shelves at home.”
That’s exactly what it was, except that it had been cut into circles and packaged as grip-tight jar openers.
Now, we don’t know about you, but our hands are a mess. They’ve always been fairly weak, but add a touch of arthritis, and opening a jar can be a real challenge.
We have a kitchen drawer full of gadgets for opening jars, ranging in price from about a buck to $20. Some are OK; others next to useless.
When we saw these ragged little circles ($2.99 for the four), we thought we’d give them a try — and guess what? — they worked like a dream. Our latest Craft Corner project was born.
While the circles worked well, they were also ugly, but easy enough to spruce up and make presentable.
With some scrap yarn and basic crochet skills, the unsightly little circles can be turned into handy and colorful kitchen helpers.
To make a round opener, cut a circle of shelf liner to the size you desire. Then, (with yarn that matches the liner color as closely as possible) use a blanket stitch to finish off the edge and create a base on which to crochet.
This may be difficult for those of you who like nice even stitches, because you’ll have to fuss with them a bit. That’s why the color needs to match.
Next, single crochet in each stitch-around using any color you desire. Add a bow or charm (see photo), but keep it simple. Too much fluff can effect functionality.
All of our round openers were completed as above, but we added an additional single crochet row to the multicolored sample in the front row (left).
Also, the opener in the front row (right) demonstrates use of small yarn scraps. We went as far as we could with the nubby colored yarn we had on hand, then finished off with plain yarn and added a hanger.
Our second photo shows samples of different shapes you can make. Simply cut out the shape you want, then weave some yarn through the holes for color.
Use one long strand of yarn if possible. We tried using shorter strands in the red sample, planning to knot them into a fringe, but it didn’t work out at all (as you can see by the knots showing from the back side).
And be sure to leave one or two rows between the yarn, so that you don’t lose the gripping quality of the shelf liner.
Oh yeah, and feel free to have a chuckle at our “snowflake” attempt. We were all jazzed about it — what a great addition to a Christmas gift basket — until we saw the result.
The problem is that the shelf liner isn’t completely symmetrical, so when you try to cut it into a perfect snowflake, well, you can’t. We may give the idea another try in future, but we’re not optimistic.
You can make the openers any size you want, but keep in mind the size jar you’re targeting, and size accordingly.
We confess that we haven’t made the holiday bazaar circuit for quite a few years, but we’re 99 percent sure that these little gizmos have “big hit” potential at such events.
Those with average crochet skills can complete four round openers in an hour. Other shapes take a bit longer — 30 minutes to an hour — to weave the yarn in and out.
A roll of shelf liner (4 feet of ConTact Ultra Grip Liner) costs between $8 and $10, and, depending on size and shape, you can get a dozen or more pieces out of each roll.
Taking time and cost of materials into consideration, one could make a decent profit by charging $1.50 to $3 per opener at your next bazaar or fundraiser.
Packaged as a set of two or three different shapes and sizes, the openers make nice hostess gifts or gift basket additions.
Contact Jonetta Coffin at firstname.lastname@example.org or C/O Herald Features, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.