Potholders are excellent, quick knitting projects. They’re functional and fun to knit. The best yarn for potholders doesn’t transfer heat. Cotton is best for potholders.
Wool yarn is also great contender as a suitable yarn for potholders. Not all yarn types are suitable for potholders, like acrylic yarn. Read on to find the best quality yarn for knitting potholders and details on what things to consider in my guide.
I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on April 1, 2023.
Table Of Contents
- What Is the Best Yarn for Potholders?
- Alternatives To Cotton Yarn
- Wool Yarn For Potholders
- Yarns To Not Use In A Potholder
- What To Consider When Choosing Yarn for A Potholder Project?
What Is The Best Yarn For Potholders?
The best yarn to use for making potholders are cotton yarn or wool. The best is 24/7® Cotton Yarn from Lion Brand. This yarn is sturdy, absorbent, inelastic, matte (not shiny), and machine washable.
Why Is Cotton Yarn The Best Potholder Yarn?
Cotton yarn is the best yarn for potholders because
- Cotton yarns don’t melt when hot pots and pans are placed on top
- This type of potholder yarn is easy to clean
- The thing is absorbent without losing its shape
- The stitch definition holds after many washes
The qualities of this type of yarn mean it’s exceptionally functional in a kitchen. Their wide availablility and huge range of colors makes these the best yarns for potholders.
Organic cotton yarn (made with sustainable production practices) is good for a knit or crochet potholder, as is mercerized cotton thread.
Use 100% cotton for a cotton potholder, not blends. Knit Picks Dishie Worsted is an excellent choice. Knitted up double creates a thick fabric perfect to hold those hot items.
Kitchen Cotton like Lion Brand’s Kitchen Cotton yarn worsted weight 100% cotton fiber and has a tight spin and washes well without losing color. This yarn is has been discontinued but still found on some online sites.
Cotton is also great for dishcloths, facecloths, normal cloths, scrubbies, coasters, oven mitts, other items for kitchen use, and amigurumi. The range of possibilities are endless! All these projects are suitable for a beginner to and advanced knitter.
Wool Fibers For Potholders
Although yarn made with cotton fibers is the number one choice, wool is highly recommended. Wool yarn doesn’t melt if it comes in contact with heat. A great wool yarn for a potholder – Swish Bulky Superwash Merino, with a wide variety of colors.
If it catches fire, it should extinguish itself once it’s no longer in contact with the flame. Wool yarn prevents heat from traveling through crochet pot holders to underneath. (Merino wool has the same effect.)
It can felt to provide a thicker “fabric” and is water-resistant as well. The problem with using 100% wool is it’s not as washable as cotton or as easy to clean or care for.
Machine washing a wool potholder that isn’t superwash, in a washing machine could end up turning into felt and ruin the potholder. After all your work of making one, you don’t want it to be ruined after the first wash!
To combat this, you could hand wash your woolen potholders. By all means, if you want to felt your potholder, machine washing is a breeze!
Good Alternatives To Cotton Yarn
Try a bamboo/cotton blend like LB Collection Cotton Bamboo, but if you use your pot holder as a trivet you may find the heat shrinks the fabric. 100% Bamboo yarn is not recommended as it doesn’t stand up to heat as well as cotton.
Silk yarn, a self-extinguishing fiber, is good in a potholder. But silk yarn isn’t cheap! An excellent option for silk blends for a potholder is Gloss DK Yarn.
You could also try recycled t-shirt yarn, provided it’s made with 100% cotton. Here’s an excellent video on the topic.
Yarns To Not Use In Potholders
Yarns like the following aren’t good because of their lack of heat resistance and are flammable: acrylic, polyester, plarn (made from plastic bags), orlon, rayon, tencel, and nylon. Avoid blends that have the above as part of the make-up too. Though wool is the number two choice for most crafters, use 100% wool.
One way to determine when you shouldn’t use a yarn for knitted or crochet potholders is whether they’re susceptible to heat.
Superwash wool may seem good, as it makes it machine washable. However, the treatments of chemicals used to make wool ‘superwash’ may cause flammability. Always check the yarn label.
Don’t use acrylic yarn to make knit or crochet potholders. The synthetic nature of these yarns means they melt at around a temperature of 160° Celsius, or 320° F.
What To Consider In Yarns For A Potholder Project?
When you’re making potholders, you a need yarn that’s
- Heat resistant
- Easy to clean
- Machine washable
- Absorbs liquids (good for times when you accidentally create spills!)
- Holds its shape after washing
- Knits/crochets up thickly
- Durable and sustains wear and tear
- Any color you fancy
- A price you can afford
(The above qualities make great yarn for scarves. So there’s a project to make with the leftover scraps!)
Here are other factors to consider. The main reason for using a potholder is to avoid burnt fingers or marks on kitchen surfaces.
A potholder protects skin and kitchen surfaces when cooking or making food like cookies. Having a large size is important to help with insulation against the high temperature.
You want your potholder material to be thick, so it insulates from the heat. Pot holder materials mustn’t melt under high temperatures or transfer too much heat. Use a textured stitch.
One tip to ensure it insulates is adding an inner layer of Insul-Bright. It’s great for many handmade projects.
Knit two pieces and sew them together to create a thicker layer if you want. Do the same if you love a particular pattern but it’s a little holey. Knit a separate piece for the back.
This tip is especially helpful for crocheters as a crochet hook can make large holes between stitches when crocheting! Try hooks ranging in Size G (4mm) – H (5mm). Crochet potholder loops for hanging up on hooks when not in use.
When considering the best yarn to use in a potholder, you’d want something absorbent but without losing its shape.
Suitable yarn is easy to clean. Potholders, like any functional items or kitchen decor get dirty quickly! Keep that in mind when choosing colors. You want to use a potholder, wash it easily (preferably in the machine washer), and use it again.
A bonus if it can be put in the dryer. Hand washing wool or cotton potholders is annoying. A good idea is yarn options with a decent amount of yardage. Holding a pot with both hands? You need a pair.
Choose a pattern for making ones with a good thickness of the knitted fabric. Using the garter stitch is an excellent option for potholder stitch patterns. Might be a good way to teach children to knit. It’s stretchy, and the stitches are close together when you maintain proper tension.
The square kind is the most common, but its semi-circular cousin is great for pulling a dish from the microwave. Avoid getting burnt upon touch or an accidental splash!
Ravelry has plenty of ideas for knit potholder patterns and crochet stitch ones (and features like a forum and video tutorials for when you get stuck.)
There are plenty of free crochet pattern and knitting patterns for a good potholder.
When knitting a potholder, keep your tension firm. This helps to create a better overall fabric and stitch definition. Consider holding two strands of yarn together for extra thickness. If you knit loosely, it’ll be difficult, but it gets easier!
What Yarn Weight Is Best For Potholders Projects?
Consider in the yarn’s weight or thickness something thick to insulate from the heat in the best yarns to make potholders.
Look for a DK yarn weight, worsted weight yarn, or heavier thread like bulky. (Look for “worsted weight yarn” and the number 4 symbol of the yarn label.) Using these weights of yarns means the knitted fabric is thick and protective. Don’t use delicate yarn weights like lace.
What Colors To Choose
Considering the amount of use these handy items have in your kitchen, darker yarn colors work well. Stains are less noticeable in a dark fabric.
24/7® Cotton Yarn is the best yarn for potholders. (This product is available in almost any craft store like Joann and is good value for money.)
I hope this post answered your questions. I know you’ll find some gorgeous natural fibers to make your potholders to hang up for kitchen décor.
In your experience can flax (linen) be used for potholders?
Here are some responses from readers-
– Hand knitted linen is usually not dense enough to protect your hand or table top from hot pans, unless you make the potholder at least 2 layers with something inside to insulate it.
I made double-sided pot holders from cotton (knit 2 separate potholders and sew them together). To insulate it, I slipped a store bought fabric potholder inside before sewing the 4th side of the 2 squares together. It’s a good idea to prewash the fabric potholder, because they do shrink a lot!
Knitted or crocheted wool potholders can be felted, which makes them much denser than cotton.
– Linen is a bit more expensive than cotton 🙂
Thank you Jodie now I am sure that I will be using cotton yarn to crotchet some potholders as Christmas gifts for friends.
That’s great to hear Zora. Hope your friends appreciate your beautiful handmade gifts. 🙂
I am planning on knitting hot pads/trivets and have read that 100% cotton would be the best option. I can’t seem to find chunky 100% cotton yarn online (preferred by me). Do you know of any? Or would it be better to get worsted weight kitchen cotton and knit with two strands?
Thanks for any advice!
Hi Melody. I don’t know any chunky 100% cotton yarn but your idea is a good one. I recommend Knit Picks Dish Cloth yarn, the 100% worsted cotton for hot pads/trivets. Cheers Jodie
Hi Jodie, Is it safe to use 50% cotton 50% rayon for hot pads? Thanks for any advice. Sharon
Hi Sharon. Rayon is derived from plant fibers. I researched if a cotton/rayon blend would stand up to heat and sit does. I’d create a swatch and test it to see how your yarn blend reacts. Cheers Jodie
I’ve been experimenting with a cotton/bamboo 50/50 blend, and I love the drape, softness and shine for home decor projects. Do you think the bamboo would hold up to heat for a pot holder? I have a double-sided potholder pattern so I’m not too worried about the thickness of it.
Hi Stacey. I tested with a granny square I’d crocheted, (a cotton and bamboo blend) and placed a hot pot on it. It didn’t melt. Do a swatch and test it. Cheers Jodie
Can I use Premier Just Cotton Yarn from dollar tree to make pot holders. I will use 2 skeins of yarn to make the pot holder. It is 85% cotton and 15% polyester. This yarn is similar to Premier Home Cotton. What would you recommend?
Hi Kathy, I would recommend doing a small swatch with the yarn and test placing something hot on it. I imagine the high percentage of cotton in this yarn would make it suitable. Let me know how you get on. Cheers Jodie
I want a simple pattern for knitted potholders. Can you help?
Hi Madelyn. One of my favorite designers Anne Weil of Flax & Twine created this free pattern for an easy mitt potholder. If you didn’t want to use it as a mitt, sew the opening. Here is the dowloadable pattern and the video tutorial. Cheers Jodie
Hello Jodie, I’m wanting to make pot holders for my new place. I have been researching alot and can’t find an answer so hoping you can help. Was wondering if Caboo yarn is good for pot holders? It’s a cotton bamboo blend. Thank you in advance
Hi Valerie. You’re referring to Lion Brand Coboo Yarn, which is 50% cotton and 50% bamboo. A swatch I made with the same fiber content didn’t melt under a hot pot. Make a swatch with the yarn and test it. Cheers Jodie