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.
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.
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).
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.
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!