Have No Fear! Striped Set-The-Table Placemats

I confess that when I thought to do this, I wondered a moment later if I was out of my mind.  Intarsia and stripes?  Sounds scary.  But forward I launched.  I am so fond of stripes!

And lo it was so much easier than I thought. . . and maybe easier than using a solid color for the placemat background.  Here’s why:  when using a solid for the placemat background, you’ll need bobbins.  But if you are striping, you just pull about a yard to 2 yard length of whatever color you are working in and use that.  Looks TERRIBLE, I have to say:

And you should have seen the mess on the floor when I had to rip out.  Positively heart-stopping.  BUT not so bad as it looked is the point I’m trying to make.  The trick to good intarsia is the way you wrap the fibers with each other when you change colors.  ALWAYS wrap and make sure your tension is even.  Working stripes doesn’t increase the number of strands of yarn you have in play at any point.  You just have shorter lengths of yarn.  THAT makes it easier to un-snarl your work.

Look at what a mess is on the back.

Look at what a mess is on the back.

Here you can see the back of the placemat right before felting.  DON'T weave in your ends!

Here you can see the back of the placemat right before felting. DON'T weave in your ends!

Don’t worry about weaving in all those ends!  Don’t even be tempted, because those woven in ends can change the gauge at which the placemat felts.  This creates problems, as you can imagine.  Just wait until after the placemat is felted and cut off the ends.

Front of placemat before felting.

Front of placemat before felting.

I put my placemat in a lingerie bag, as usual, and waited for it to start to feel stiff in the water.  I worked this mat in Shepherd’s Wool so it started to felt quickly.  And pulled in at the center A LOT.  I checked often, pulling the mat into rectangle every time I pulled it out of the water (about every three minutes).

Placemat during felting:  it pulled in at the center quite a bit. . . but not to worry!

Placemat during felting: it pulled in at the center quite a bit. . . but not to worry!

You might be tempted to take it out just before it’s ready.  Resist the temptation and dump back in.  Keep pulling the center out to rectangle.  You will probably notice that the sides of the placemat ruffle just a bit.  All of the mats I have felted have done so (four and counting).  As an antidote to the flaring, I folded the mat in half and held just the ruffly sides down in the water.  Worked like a charm.  Look at the spectacular results below!  If you don’t have a top loader as I do, you can do some of this work with easing:  lay the mat flat and smooth it with your fingers, moving the excess fabric into the center even as you flatten the fabric.  Leave flat until the mat is completely dry.

A little pulling into shape and it's DONE!

A little pulling into shape and it's DONE!

And here is my little Soma sitting at the table after setting his place (without parental oversight and micromanagement, I might add) with quite a proud little look on his face.


Send in your pictures of your little wee ones at their own mats or in the process of setting the table.  We’d love to set up a gallery of your set the table placemats and table setters!  Also, please tell us your placemat stories and experiences–we’d love to hear them.  Or post your questions about the Mats below and I’ll track and answer.  Happy Knitting. . . and Felting!

5 thoughts on “Have No Fear! Striped Set-The-Table Placemats

  1. Wait just a minute… you didn’t weave in the ends???????????? Does this mean I didn’t have to weave in all those ends that were in the Ella Coat?????????

    Love the placemat… I love stripes.

  2. Kristal, That’s right-you DON’T have to weave in all those ends when you are felting (most of the time). For my ella coat, I tied ends together in square knots and cut just to the outside of the knot. But for bags and these placemats, you don’t even have to worry about that. The harder the felt, the less worry there is. So, for a lightly felted garment, you can weave in ends or cut them if they are secure.

    In hard felted items, actually, you sometimes have to worry about the woven in ends changing the felted gauge (at a bag opening, for example, like the striped Sassy Skinny Tube Baguette).

    Check out my first blog entry. There’s a pillow idea I’d LOVE for someone to try and comment on.


  3. Hi Nora,

    I love your patterns…and am now about to attempt one for the first time. I am SO excited!

    I have the yarn, and your pattern for the little chef oven mitts and set-the-table-placemats from jimmybeanswool.com and am ready to begin, but am confused in the pattern materials for the placemats on what size/type needle I am to use. Under “Unfelted Gauge” it mentions that for the placemats to use US 11/8 mm needles. Then, under the “Materials” section for the placemats it says to use US 8/ 5mm 32″ circular needles, and then under the note about intarsia, it mentions the size 11 needles again. I am antsy to begin, but will wait till I hear back from you on what size/type needle you recommend.

    Thank you so much for your inspiring patterns! They bring such joy! I am looking forward to using these placemats with our two boys.


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