Tip of the Mathberg
The Crochet Lounge Way
Magic Potholders Deciphered
I LOVE Magic Potholders and you may, too!
A “magic potholder” is a square potholder that is made in one piece (without having to break yarn), on the diagonal, in the round, and folds into double the thickness onto itself before finishing off.
That was a mouthful, but when you hook it, it really is all of the above and more. Can you tell I am excited to share?
- You can take ANY stitch pattern, as long as you make a straight edge for it (to form the square), and make a Magic Potholder!
- Using a little bit of mathematics, it can come out the expected size EVERY TIME and we’ll show you how
- Prefilled tables at your fingertips for your foundation chain/foundation single crochet (fsc) count
Use Pythagorean Theorem (yes, Geometry level nomnom) to help figure out the sizing of your finished Magic Potholder!
The Free Pattern
For the faint-hearted at mathematics, here is a pattern to explain by hooking, Butterfly Stitch Magic Potholders.
The How to
Take ANY Stitch and Making Magic Potholders:
Steps to creating a successful magic potholder with any stitch:
1) Determine your gauge with the chosen hook, yarn and stitch
2) Determine the desired size of the finished potholder e.g. 5″x5″, 7″x7″ so on and so forth
3) Do the math or simply check out the table at the bottom of this post to determine the starting chain length or fsc length taking into consideration how to make the stitch straight edged on the two sides
4) Get ready, set and HOOK the stitch from one end of your foundation chain to the other, adding enough repeats at each end to make a pouch shape.
Quick 30s video of how this pouch is then folded into the Magic double layered Potholder is being uploaded and will be linked here soon.
The Nitty Gritty that isn’t so Detailed
- A right angle measures 90°, and in this case is the corner of the Magic Potholder.
- The Legs of the triangle are the sides that form the right angle, denoted as sides a & b.
- The Hypotenuse is the largest side in a triangle that is opposite to the right angle. It is denoted as side c in the Pythagorean Theorem.
- Since the Magic Potholder is a Square, we will only be talking about the Pythagorean Theorem where side a equals side b (a=b).
The pythagorean theorem states that the sum of the area of the squares created by the two legs of the right triangle (a & b) is equal to the area of the square with sides the length of the hypotenuse (c).
In our case, the Magic Potholder is a square, so we will be working with the theorem where a is equal to b.
a² + b² = c², and a = b
Here are the steps to find the sides from a given hypotenuse (your foundation chain start):
2a² = c²
a² = c²/2
a = sqrt (c²/2)
The ideal situation is actually determining what end size potholder you want and finding the hypotenuse then converting via your gauge to your starting foundation chain.
a² + b² = c², and a = b
2a² = c²
sqrt(2a²) = c
The following table calculates the length of the hypotenuse based on the ending measurement of the sides of the square you would like to make. It does not include a unit base since it could be used for any unit calculation. In metric, 30.5cm is roughly 12 inches, so the table is made going up to 30.75 for the side.
Determining the Gauge
To determine the gauge, I highly suggest you measure your foundation single crochet or if you must, measure foundation chain with a row of sc to stabilize the chain. The reason for suggesting using FSC is because it doesn’t stretch/pull out of shape and will stay the same as you stitch across and around it. I prefer starting all my magic potholders using FSC since it creates a nice straight diagonal or hypotenuse for one side of Magic Potholder.
What is Foundation Single Crochet (FSC)?
FSC is the foundation chain plus a row of sc done in one single row, and is done as follows:
Foundation single crochet (fsc) – ch2, insert hook into 2nd chain from hook, yo draw up a loop, yo draw through 1 (this creates the next foundation chain), yo draw through 2 (this completes the single crochet)
*insert hook into the next foundation chain just created, yo draw up a loop, yo draw through 1, yo draw through 2
Repeat from * until total fsc completed
The equation so you can make specific calculations to your own gauge.
Ex. Measuring in inches, using worsted weight cotton and an H or I hook, my sc rows can measure 4st to an inch. Upon determining the hypotenuse of the potholder from the table above, you simply take the hypotenuse and multiply it by the number of stitches per inch to get the number of starting FSC you need.
So to get an 8″ Magic Potholder, you would read the table for 8 inches and see that the hypotenuse will be 11.31in. To get the number of foundation chain needed to achieve proximity to the 11.31in hypotenuse, you multiply 11.31in to your gauge stitches per inch (here, we’re using 4).
4 stitches/in * 11.31in = 45.24stitches
Obviously, since we can’t stitch a partial stitch, you will then round up or down depending on your heart’s desire
The following table calculates the FSC number needed for you – you just need to know what the finished size of the potholder you would like, and using the same base unit (inches or cm, for example), make your gauge to figure out the stitches per unit, and use this table to find out how many starting FSC you would need (or starting chain + 1).
Hooking the Magic Potholder
The only thing remaining for consideration is how to hook the stitch you want on your Magic Potholder. Some patterns have larger stitch quantities before reaching a repeat. This will have to work with the size of the potholder you have chosen (unless you want to make it larger or smaller purely based on the number of pattern repeat — which is much easier than the mathberg we are playing with here).
Since the pattern is worked AROUND the FSC, in order for it to start forming the square shape, you need extra stitches in the end fsc on each side in the first round. If your pattern stands the height of sc, you would use 4sc on each end, if it stands the height of hdc, you would stitch 4hdc on each end. For more complicated stitches, you can convert the stitch to match – just like the Butterfly Stitch Magic Potholders. You need to account for the extra stitches at the two ends for your pattern repeat.
On the Butterfly Stitch Magic Potholders, there is an extra 2 stitches at each end of the fsc so when calculating the pattern repeat, you would have to add 4 to the ‘foundation as if it were a flat rectangular piece.
Once you get going, it won’t be such a mystery since all you are doing is going around and around with the fsc as the base of the rectangular pouch you are creating. When the short side of the rectangle is equal to half of the calculated hypotenuse, you are ready to fold it into your Magic Potholder and stitch it shut into a double layered square.