Archive for July, 2012

Milkbag sitting mats

UPDATE (4 Oct. ’14): UK `dc’ (double crochet) changed to to US `sc’ (single crochet).

We’ve begun making sitting mats (2′ x 2′) for students in Haiti. Here are the instructions:

  1. With a no.8 crochet hook, chain 40.
  2. Using the sc stitch, go back along the chain, counting as you go, to end up with 39 sc stitches. Make 1 chain stitch, to go up one row.
  3. Turn the work around, to start back the other way. To turn without a funny knot forming, take the work (which is all to your right) and put it on your lap (with the bottom of the mat near your body). Now turn the work like you’d turn the page of a book — it swings towards you and then is all on the left.
  4. IMPORTANT: the first stitch you make in the new row is into the hole immediately below your hook. Not one over (which seems like the right place) but right below where your hook is. If you go one over, your work will begin to take on a ladder-like edge, and you’ll end up with a pyramid, if it continues row after row … not what you want! To make sure you started in the right place, count each dc stitch as you go — you should have 39 by the end.
  5. Remember — this is a sitting mat so each sc stitch has to be fluffy and pouffy! The 1st loop (which moves you along horizontally) over your hook should be about twice the diameter of your hook while the 2nd loop (which is the row height) should be a good inch. It’s hard to stop from pulling the plarn tighter and tighter … but it’s no fun sitting on a rock-hard mat! So, always make sure the 2nd loop is bigger than the 1st on your hook.
  6. At the end of the row, turn as described in Step 3., start the first stitch as described in Step 4, and keep on going.
  7. Make 38-40 rows in sc, so that you end up with a square mat.

To finish off the square sitting mat, go around the whole mat (all 4 sides) in a relaxed sc:

  1. Do the 3th sc stitch in your last row, then add 1 chain (to make the turn). Do a 40th sc stitch into the same hole as the 39th, and then start going down the side of the mat.
  2. When you look at the ends of rows on the side, you’ll notice an alternating pattern — one hole seems large, the next seems buried between two rows. These are the only two holes that you’ll use as you do a sc stitch into one and then the other, all the way down the side.
  3. At the end (or bottom) of the side, again finish the last sc, then do 1 ch, do a second sc into the same hole — this makes the turn and you start going across the bottom of the mat. If you’re careful, you can even take the `tail’ of plarn from your start point, lay it along the bottom edge, and crochet over it, thereby enclosing it neatly from view.
  4. Going across the bottom, do 1 sc into each hole of the first row of sc. Get to the end, make the turn, go up the second side, make the turn and now go across the top row of the mat to the end.
  5. To finish and tie off the work: do the last sc stitch, put the hook through the next hole, pull the plarn through to make a 4in loop. Remove the hook, insert the scissors, and cut the loop at the end — let’s call this a `tail’. Holding the base of the `tail’ with your left thumb and index, gently pull the cut end with your right. This will tighten the loop at the base of the tail, making it like a knot.
  6. Take a hook (if you have one that’s one or two sizes smaller than the no.8, that’s perfect) and weave the tail into the existing stitches, till it’s all gone.

Step back, put it on the floor, and sit on it! Compare how the bare floor feels with having the mat under you. And then try hard to make the next mat even fluffier and pouffier!

One way to make it fluffier: change to a no.9 hook and use 1.5-inch strips — but you’d probably want to reduce the starter chain strip by maybe 2 stitches or so … Another is to use a `double half crochet’ stitch — here’s the URL where they explain the different stitches — and what the US / UK terms are:

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