Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Knitting with Wool

I was sick for a few days.  Went to work anyway, with a low-level fever.  I finally took a day off when I lost my voice and really wasn't in any shape to get in to work on Tuesday.  After sleeping for another four plus hours, I got up and decided to get something done.  There were papers to write, classes to plan, blankets to finish...

I knit a hat.  I also fixed the brim on Lee's hat since he didn't like the cast-on edge and wanted a fold-up brim on it.  Now they just need to be blocked.

This hat will be a part of my camping gear set and hopefully a really awesome warm winter hat.  To round out the camping gear, I'm planning to knit a matching ninja mask, basically making a balaclava that is in two pieces, more versatile.  The mask will work with a bicycle helmet and having separate layers will be useful for varying weather conditions while on extended hikes.

I swatched, but am going to rip out the swatch and start the mask using that end.  Probably not necessary, but there's no point in saving the swatch (I say now...) and this way I will only have one ball of leftovers rather than two.  I'm anal like that sometimes.

I swatched this time partly because this pattern is one of those fill-in-the-blanks with your own measurements and gauge and such, but also because I'm using a much larger yarn and am still hoping that it works.  We shall see!  Now onto the mask.  Yes, there are other things to do, but this is honestly a quick(ish) project that's been on my list for a bit and needs to be done by August, when we take the gear on a test run.  Better would be to have it (and one matching the brown hat) done by May for a five day bike ride, just in case.

Monday, April 11, 2011

WIP Update

WIPs, let me show you them!

First off, we have the blanket I've been working on for AGES, finished up to 60%, then ripped back to get a better product.  Points for integrity, but probably not enough to compensate for the lateness.  Ah well, this is an awesome project and is coming out very, very well.  Look at those floats!  And those intarsia joins!  Of course, not amazing, but pretty gosh darn great if I do say so myself.

I am going to finish this off with an applied I-cord edging and cover the back with some gray fleece.  I think I will attempt to attach the fleece with the applied I-cord somehow.  I may do some other kind of edging, to make the fleece attachment easier, something like a crocheted edge or something, but I've been leaning toward a six stitch I-cord the whole time and still think that sounds pretty good.  Any ideas on how to attach the fleece?  I think I may baste the edges with long stitches, and pick up stitches through those with the I-cord to attach it.  Or something.  Holes in the fleece?  Something other than I-cord?  Since everything else about this blanket has been wrong from the get-go, I'll probably end up doing something other than I-cord, but not until I've at least tried the I-cord.  Hopefully before failing miserably and ruining the fleece such that I'll have to buy a whole new piece.  Do they even come in queen-sized blanket from fabric stores?  Will I have to sew smaller pieces together?

That's my big at-home, watching movies, winding down after dinner project.  Of course, I have some other projects going as well.  I've got Rhiannon on the needles for my traveling sock project, though when the first one is finished I'll probably switch to some Christmas presents like a scarf or pair of socks rather than jumping in to the next one.  Yes, another WIP going into UFO status, but I won't be wearing these anytime soon so I may as well get working on other things!  I'm down to 12, yes, 12! WIPs, so I don't feel too bad about letting another one languish.  Wait, isn't that how the insane numbers start?

I'm also using a cross stitch to break up the monotony of the huge blanket.  Still the ornaments.  Three 100% stitching complete, six needing backstitching and other details, three others started.  Once I finish those I'll pull out the Art of Disney Mickey and the Fireman (scroll down for project pictures) again, but I think I can finish the ornaments faster than that, so ornaments first!

All of the other projects that show up in the sidebar as in progress are really more in hibernation.  Nothing else is really at a state of more progress than it had been last time it was seen.  I am kind of getting itchy for a quick finish though.  Funny how when that happens I cast on about a bajillion things, thinking that this one MUST be faster than the last one I started thinking it would be quick.  I went through all of my sewing fabrics the other day, and the only thing that stayed my hand was that the winter and traveling bumped me up into a higher size than my easy patterns.  At least I've got some really long cycling vacations planned soon!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Christmas Gifts finished in March

The goal for the year, to minimize year-end carpal tunnel due to frenzied knitting and to maximize on-time Christmas gifting, was to knit two Christmas presents per month.  I managed to do more UFO and stash knitting than anticipated thus far, so I'm not too upset by the behindness in Christmas gifts, but I am two months behind.  Only two finished thus far, both in March.

First up, yet another Thuja!  I love this yarn and am interested to see how it wears.  It looks great as an FO!

Pattern: Thuja from Knitty (Ravelry)
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Garnet Heather
Needles: US6/4.0mm
Timeframe: March 13 - April 1, though they were waiting for a block for a few days.
Mods: None.
Problems: None. Love this pattern so, so, so much!
I also finished a scarf.  I dislike scarves typically, but this one was pretty good, if a bit boring for the long stretch of plain rows in between the designs on either end.  I made the cast on and bind off two-colored to match the edges, using a crochet cast-on for the beginning and a yarn-over bindoff for the end.  Check out my Ravelry page for more technical information.
Yarn: Diakeito Diaepoca, two skeins of black and two of green.
Needles: US5/3.75mm
Timeframe: January 14 - April 1
Mods: Some.  Cast on/Bind off to match sides, used instructions from the two-row Noro scarf slipping the first and last stitch of every second row to make a nice edge.  Marked where I ran out of yarn from the first two skeins to maximize yarn usage and length.  No fringe.
Problems: None!

Now to not forget about or lose either of these for Christmas.  Shouldn't be too difficult!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Last year, I made a bunch of Clogs, nice felted slippers.  I never showed off the last couple, because I was going to do a small how-I-did-it on them.  I made another pair this year, so I will finally show my felting process and the FOs that I've felted, or more correctly, fulled, in my cold water only front-loading washer/dryer.

First off, I dunked them in the sink, in hot water, so that the temperature change would help to kickstart the felting process.  My washer has only cold water.  I found that this step wasn't really necessary with later clogs.

Next up, toss in the clogs.  Preferably with towels and/or jeans, items that are somewhat rough that will help the process along.

Ooooh, a closeup of my high-tech washer/dryer interface!  I set the wash and rinse cycles for as long as they'd go, to give the machine more time.  I found that this isn't totally necessary, just tossing the clogs in for two or three full wash/dry cycles works as well.  Before/after shots:

Pattern: Fiber Trends Clogs (Rav)
Size: Men's L
Yarn: Japanese wool in black and blue
Needles: US13
Timeframe: January 2 - 5, 2011
Mods: Used Judy's Magic Cast-On for the soles.
Problems: I doubled instead of tripled the slightly thinner Japanese yarn for this one and it felted a bit more than I wanted.  Bah!

Pattern: Fiber Trends Clogs (Rav)
Size: Men's L
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, Taupe and Japanese wool in white, with a bit of leftover pink on the middle sole due to running out.
Needles: US13
Timeframe: January 22 - March 14, 2010
Mods: Used Judy's Magic Cast-On for the soles, knit a third sole for extra warmth.
Problems: None!

Pattern: Fiber Trends Clogs (Rav)
Size: Women's L
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, Taupe and Red from stash
Needles: US13
Timeframe: January 6 - March 14, 2010
Mods: Used Judy's Magic Cast-On for the soles, knit a third sole for extra warmth.
Problems: None!

I also made felted panhandles using the same methodology for my all-metal pans, my little crepes pan (mmmm, crepes) and my large skull-splitting cast iron pan.  It's annoying if you're using it for awhile and have to keep checking the handle before grabbing it, even worse when you forget to check and really, really should have.

I could have made the handles smaller, in fact, I really should have looked around for the free patterns I now know are out there.  They're a bit larger than they should be.  Still fully usable, but would be nicer if they were more form-fitting.

Pattern: Nonexistent (Rav)
Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Fern, leftovers from Rogue
Needles: US9/5.5mm
Timeframe: December 25, 2010
Mods: No pattern, so none!
Problems: Still a bit big - but oh well, they'll do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nuno Felting

I've become somewhat enamored with Nuno felting.  After making the wraps this past summer and realizing how quickly they can be made (and already having a good assortment of roving to choose from), I decided to make scarves for Christmas for various relatives.  I soon learned that while the Corriedale wool felted amazingly and quickly, the other wools that I have were not the best for felting, even if they are awesome colors.  I suppose it could also have been something to do with the quality of the silk, not being as airy and open as the silk used for the wraps too.

When I made the wraps over the summer, I posted a bit of a tutorial on how I made them.  I got some finished 8"x54" scarves from Dharma Trading and invited the local crafters to come and learn how to Nuno felt and kick off my Christmas felting frenzy.  We all followed the same instructions, and I really have nothing to add or change about them, except that when doing the scarves one at a time, since they're so much smaller than the wraps, rolling the bubble wrap up around a wine bottle to roll around works well.  I mostly made them two at a time though, and rolling them up with a bottle is not so good then.  I made eight scarves for family this year.  Eight!  While it is a heck of a lot faster and easier than knitting them, it does take a bit of a toll on the wrists, and these take quite a bit of rolling before they are adequately felted.

Each scarf only took a couple of hours to felt, so they all took an afternoon and only the couple with the extra yarn needle felted on them took extra time.  I needle felted the yarn on afterward instead of adding it into the felting, which you can do, because it just didn't look finished when I was done with the Nuno part.  I let the yarn curl around however it wanted to, helping it out a bit here and there, but not really designing it myself.  I like how it looks needle felted on afterward as opposed to being a part of the laminate.

For the designing process, the first few were not really designed.  I slapped the wool onto the center of the scarf in varying directions and felted it that way.  I like the fan motifs, as you can see from the white wraps, so I did one of those next.  The rest of them were mostly based on ideas from my fellow felters, as they were in general more artsy than I.  The fringe along the edge of the scarf was more from knit scarves I've seen, and I thought it might work well.  I like it, and the recipient does too.  The squares were a motif placed by a friend, and I liked it so much I used it as well, and made one for me afterward.  The large "X" motif was also inspired by a friend.

For closeups, see Flickr
All in all, I really hope that the recipients enjoy their artsy scarves.  They're 100% wool around a base of 100% silk, and actually quite soft and surprisingly warm.  I don't consider them to be great works of art, but then again, I am not an artist so these are pretty gosh darn good for a layperson who hasn't studied art since eighth grade.

Deer in the Headlights - that's me!