Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

And I’m off!

July 8, 2010

I leave in the morning to visit my parents and younger sister for two weeks, that will probably be filled with assorted fibre-y pursuits.  Whether that means more or less blog posts remains to be seen.  It will mean less shop updates, since I spent the past little while stocking up on yarn and then ran out of time to take pictures of it, clever being that I am.  Oh well.  There are thirty-one items in the shop already, and since none of them have sold yet I don’t think I’ll have problems maintaining stock levels while I’m gone.  Sigh.

I’m bringing two spindle spinning projects (silk/linen for weaving and cotton for learning), two knitting projects (complicated silk lace shawl and easy alpaca shawlette) plus yarn and needles for a back-up pair of socks, a bunch of fibre that turned out to be crap for spinning that we’re going to felt, and about a pound and a half of raw wool (Clun Forest and Romney) to dye and put through Mum’s drum carder.  Think that’ll keep me quiet for two weeks?  I also brought an extra spindle in case I have to start spinning the batts, too.

Part Eight: Felting

March 11, 2009

This is the awesome rebellious part where you get to do all the things that you’re always told not to do when working with wool.  Hot water?  Check.  Lots of soap?  Check.  Agitate?  Check.

My favourite felting method is how they make yurts in Mongolia.  They lay out a giant layer of leather on the ground, then cover it with whole, unwashed fleeces (the natural wool grease helps shed rain from the roof), pour on their boiling water, roll the whole thing up in the leather and trot it around behind a horse for a while.  Some day I’ll get to try it!

As was noted in the comments of ‘Designing’, I’m going to felt the cozy by hand instead of in the machine, in the hopes of a) getting it to felt more and b) losing less dye.  Everybody has their own method of felting knitted items.  Most people, I think, use the method I did for my swatch, which was simply to put it in the washing machine, set on hot.  I’ve read about people with a bucket full of tennis balls and hot soapy water, swooshing and stirring like madwomen with a giant wooden spoon.  I confess, the thought does rather appeal to me, except I don’t have any tennis balls.  Instead, I think I’ll just do it in the kitchen sink, similar to how I do my felting of straight non-knitted wool, just more water, since I don’t have to worry about it falling apart.

Materials: Rubber gloves (thick ones, to protect you from the boiling water), soap (plain ol’ dish soap works pretty well), a kettle or pot for boiling water in, a wool knitted (or crocheted) item.

Step One: Drizzle soap on item.  I had the brilliant idea of using a cutting board to raise the surface to a more back-friendly level while still allowing water to fall off and go in the sink, but . . . it wouldn’t stay put for me.

Drizzle Soap

Drizzle Soap

Step Two: Pour on boiling water.  Put pot/kettle back on heat so it stays warm.

Step Three: Agitate.  Squish it, scrunch it, roll it between your hands, roll it up in a sushi mat, rub it on an old-fashioned washboard, whatever.

Squooshing

Squooshing

Step Four: When you realize the water’s not hot any more, pour on some more.

Step Five: Stop and check the size every once in a while.  At first it will feel like nothing’s happening, then it will look fuzzy, and then you’ll think “hey, I think it’s getting smaller!” and then it will be too small.  I almost messed up here, but I stopped just in time!

It's Felting!

It's Felting!

Step Six: When it’s finally the right size (it takes about half an hour), squeeze out the water in a towel and mold it to the form you want.  Stuff it, lay it flat, drape it over a bowl, anything that will hold it in place until it’s dry.  It will hold some pretty complex shapes if you try hard enough.

Step Seven: Wait for it to dry.  Leave it in place until it really is all the way dry for it to hold the shape best.  Mine took pretty much 24 hours.

Drying

Drying

And now, at last, we are ready for Part Nine:  Testing!

Part Seven: Knitting the Tiny Tea Cozy

March 10, 2009

Yarn: 3 ply, 9 wpi (wraps per inch) handspun, approx. 108 m
Gauge:  3.5 sts/5 rows per inch.
Needles:  5mm x 22″ circular needle, or set of DPN’s.

PATTERN

CO 12 sts with Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Row 1:  Knit.  Place four markers, evenly spaced.  I use the spaces between the needles as two of my markers.

Knitting

Row 2:  *Kfb (knit front and back), k to last st before marker, kfb, rep from * to end of row.

Row 3:  Knit.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 five more times (60 sts).

Row 14:  Remove 2nd and 4th marker.  *Kfb, k to last st before marker, kfb, rep from * to end of row.

Row 15:  Knit.

Repeat rows 10 and 11 four times (80 sts).

Row 23:  Knit.  Repeat until it measures 8″ from beginning.

Turn row:  Purl.

Knit 5 rows.

Cast off.  Turn at purl row, stitch hem to body of cozy.

Sewing Hem

All ready for Part Eight:  Felting!

Tea Cozy Knitted

Part Six: Designing

March 7, 2009

This is it!  Decision time.  The teapot itself is too pretty to cover it up the whole time, so I’m going to go for the more traditional hat-like tea cozy rather than a shaped one that will button on and never get taken off.  It needs to be a bit oval to make room for the handle and spout, so I’m going to basically use a plain hat pattern and play with the shaping a bit.  I am terrible at predicting how long any given decrease section will be ( I constantly have to re-do the toes of my socks, they are always too short) so to make sure it doesn’t end up too big or small I think I’ll do it from the top down.  Hopefully this will also prevent me from running out of yarn eight stitches before the end.

Observant people may have noticed in the “after” swatch picture that some of the dye washed out in a bit of a blotchy shape.  I was grumpy about that, but when my darling boyfriend saw it before I could say anything, he said “Cool!  How did you do that?” so I guess it’s okay!  I’ll have to wait and see how it works on the real thing, maybe use some nicer soap.  If I really hate it, I can always overdye it.  Really observant people may have even noticed that my yarn is not, in fact, single ply any more.  Yeah, I made it three ply after all – it wasn’t thick enough.

My original swatch was 4″x4″, and shrank to 3.5″x3.5″ (didn’t shrink much, did it? Only 12%).  I want my finished cozy to be 20″ around and 7″ tall.  So my re-felted piece needs to be 23″ around and 8″ tall.  At 3.5 stitches per inch, that means it needs to be 80 stitches around after all the initial increases.

New Project

February 18, 2009

The next several posts will be two projects I’ve been meaning to do for a while.  The first part is simple – I want to make a tea cozy for my boyfriend’s lovely little Japanese teapot.  It’s perfect for an afternoon’s worth of tea, but it needs some equally cute insulation to keep it hot for a couple of hours.

Tea Pot

The second part is more fun – I’m going to document the whole process, in detail.  Beginning with the raw Shetland/Cotswold fleece I got last summer (“Beryl’s ram lamb”) through washing, carding, spinning, dyeing, knitting, and probably felting the final product.  Maybe some embroidery.

*OK, I confess most of the reason that I’m doing the second part now is for a school blog assignment.  But still.  It will be fun.