felting


This is what I get for making slippers out of wool… :(

20160119_214812_medium220160121_213117_medium2I made some slippers. I thought they were lovely slippers. Warm and cosy and quite comfortable. I used yarn I received as a gift from my husband and kid to make these slippers, and all was well with the world.

Then one of those slippers went all Bilbo Baggins on me and decided to go on an adventure.

An adventure into the washing machine.

On the hot water cycle. 

So yeah, massive shrinking and felt city. I don’t even know if it would fit my 9 year old. Tragedy.

R.I.P slipper. You will be missed.

So, the cold weather is rapidly approaching. Guess I should make a replacement pair, eh? Yes. Yes I should. I have multiple goals in mind with this pair.

  1. CANNOT BE SHRUNK! This seriously sucked, so I am making sure I use a yarn that protects me from any future adventuring slippers.
  2. Durable. We moved (YAY) and our new house is likely going to be hella colder than what we’re used to. New house is a lot bigger and no wood stove any more = slippers all the time!! So I need them to be able to stand up to constant wear.
  3. Warm. See #2
  4. Bootie style. I want them to have a proper cuff so that they stay on easily, but also in case I go tromping out in the snow in them. (Yes, this happens. A lot. I’ll be inside and my kid will be all “LES! Come see this!” and I’ll have to tromp outside in my slippers and hastily tossed on jacket to witness something he deemed worthy of my effort.)
  5. Appropriately scuffy/floppy so that they are super comfy but also of a size that I could wear them with a pair of socks as well, should the need arise, and it probably will because Canada.
  6. Pretty. I like pretty things. I swear, pretty things are warmer than boring things.

So that’s my plan, and actually I have already started. First of all, I’m using acrylic. I know I know, I “should” be using proper wool and I feel somewhat bad for using acrylic for slippers, especially since I have some really nice wool just aching to become slippers, but you know what? I can’t. I can’t face another accidentally shrunk slipper. Plus, I have a ton of Loops and Thread Impeccable in all sorts of colours that I should use up. So don’t be givin’ me any of your sass about how acrylic sucks and isn’t warm and try to make me feel like I’m breaking some good knitter law. Hurumph.

14079477_10157336087155603_3063458909892975478_nSo goal one is the cuffs. I’m knitting cuffs as tubes (Double Layer! Extra Warmth!). 26 stitches around on size US 9 needles. It isn’t a tight knit by any stretch of the imagination, and that is intentional. I would knit to a much smaller gauge with this yarn, using like a US 4 or something for a yarn weight like this, if this was an outdoor item. Windblocking and all that. But this is an indoor item, where comfort and squishy warmth are what matters. So I’ve knit the tubes, with some added fun of colour shifting, and since I’m knitting to such a big gauge they are knitting up SUPER fast. Already done one and halfway through he second. WIN! Also, they are looking pretty snazzy. I’m knitting them all grey with a blob of colour on one end (see the adjacent picture for what the block of colour looks like). When I finish them I’m going to make the blob of colours go on the side of my ankles, mostly just for fun but also to differentiate the two. I’m not weeping over the existence of seams, but I suppose if I had been smart I could have done a provisional cast on and then kitchener’d them together, but screw that. I’m going to crochet the two ends together and call it a day.

Once the cuffs are done I am going to knit the booties. I can’t decide if I want to start them by picking up stitches around the cuffs and then going that way, or if I want to knit toe up and then seaming them. Decisions decisions. Also, I think for warmth and durability I am going to knit the booties with the yarn held double. Will prob go up a couple needle sizes as well.

Cold weather is approaching quickly. Looking forward to getting these done ASAP!

 


Knitted purses done right

As the warmer weather approaches I have been looking towards projects that aren’t so focused on keeping me warm. I have long wanted to make a knitted purse that I could use every day but I feel like this is a tricky project, and not because they are hard to make.

The problem with knitted purses is that they can end up looking really tacky.

There. I said it. I said the thing you aren’t supposed to say, but it is true! Weird Al is the only person who could pull off a lot of the knitted purses out there. (Sidenote: man do I love Weird Al! Going to his concert later this year! YEAH!) I love to knit and love the look of most knitted things, but I am fully and completely aware that it is very easy to make very tacky, kitschy, dare I say ugly knitted things. VERY easy. I am also prepared to admit that some of the things I have made are ugly. (Cabled Leg Warmers, I’m looking at you…) Knitting is already regarded as being a dorky hobby, no need to compound that by knitting tacky ugly things. I am far from being a slave to fashion, but I do think that how you look and present yourself to the world has an effect on how you are treated. Maybe it isn’t fair or right, but it is just how it is. Plus, I am a civil servant and (unfortunately) have the expectation upon me to look more or less professional and civil servant-y (whatever the hell that means) most of the time.

My other problem is that I have a long history of atrocious taste in purses. I LOVE purses and often end up buying the ugliest purses on the planet. I have literally had strangers come up to me and insult my purse. I have learned to approach purses very cautiously.

So, how do I do the knitted purse while still looking fashionable? There are a TON of patterns out there for knitted purses in every shape and style imaginable, so first I look for knitted purse patterns that have elements I like in the purses I would buy!

  1. Not too big but able to carry what I need without over-stuffing
  2. good pocket placement
  3. comfortable strap at a good length
  4. structured
  5. not overly detailed or fussy

Then I take out the ones that have knitted elements that I find tacky, like the use of novelty yarn. To me, novelty yarn is NEVER the right option. Never ever. (Except maybe in this cute hedgehog pattern…) I also assess whether I think a non-knitter would be likely to wear the purse. If not, well,… maybe it isn’t the best choice.

So what does that leave me with? A surprising amount actually! I think I have narrowed it down to the following patterns.

For purses on the more simple side of things, I love this Braided Cable Handle Tote by Amanda Silveira. (Free pattern) Uncomplicated but still interesting thanks to the cables. And it is felted, and we all know how much I like felting!

For something a little more detailed, the Bee’s Knees purse by Andre Sue is pretty fantasic. Love the pockes and the stitch patten, the straps are nice and wide, and a fun liner fabric can do a huge amount to make it extra exciting and fun (while still being fashionable and untacky). The only think I’m not in love with is the garter stitch for the handle, but that is easily changed.

This DROPS design Bag with cable pattern (free pattern) is pretty simple and I think could be nice if done in a solid colour. It is a pattern I keep coming back to but for some reason I just don’t think it is right for me personally. Maybe it is the shape.

This Pleats Purse I by Josephine Woo (paid pattern) is pretty, felted, and interesting with the pleats. I also LOVE the mustard colour of the purse in the project photos and it is possible I’m responding more to the colour than I am to the purse design.

One pattern I keep coming back to is The Cinch by Nora J. Bellows. Part of me thinks it is too big and bulbous, but man… I just love how it looks. The belted detail adds so much and would be well worth the hassle of having to buy the hardware and do the extra work to finish it. The pattern is a bit pricey at $8.50, but very possibly may be worth it for me.

 

But then I think, hey, a purse is just a big pocket with some straps… maybe I can design my own! And that may very well be what I end up doing. I do like all the above options (especially Bee’s Knees), so maybe I can take the different elements I like from the different patterns and create a brand new design that exactly matches what I want in a purse. It isn’t like designing a sweater where fit matters. Its just a purse, after all. And this is knitting. If it ends up ugly I can always frog. 🙂

 

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:


Shimmy Mittens

 

The end result of my yarn dying experiment. I love how they turned out, all warm and cozy and colourful. My home dyed yarn was great, though I deeply regret not having spent more time rinsing the dyed yarn, especially the pink sections. Huge amount of colour transfer on to my hands while knitting those sections, and the cable on my needles even picked some up! Yeesh! None the less, love the mittens.

 

 

Click here to read more about my yarn dying experiment.

 

Project Notes:

  1. Used ~160g of Fishermen’s Wool divided in to four 40g balls. Two balls were dyed to be blue -> purple gradient, the other two were dyed to be yellow -> pink gradient. Each mitten used one of each colourway.
  2. Knit using size 13US needles. The yarn was held double in that I always held both colourways the whole time. It created a sort of double colour gradient that I think looks pretty cool.
  3. The mittens were 36 stitches around which was plenty. They are frankly a little wide yet, but I’m worried that if I felt them further they will become too short. I may still try anyway.
  4. I REALLY wish I had knit the cuffs longer. I made them 3.5 inches down from the thumb and I thought that would be plenty but nope. It is really irritating because I knew that felted items shrink in length more than width and I *thought* I had that accounted for but apparently not. Not the end of the world though.
  5. The thumbs were done as an afterthought thumb with seven stitches knit on to scrap yarn and picking up 1 on each corner to make 16 stitches around.

We have a loooooooooot of snow and it is cold as hell. My mittens are pretty fabulous for this weather!!


EXPERIMENT: Dying my own yarn (Part 3 – the end result)

I finished knitting up my mittens using my dyed yarn and ran them through the washer a couple times to felt them up. I am very very pleased with the results. 003The colours stayed remarkably bright despite my concerns that not enough of the dye would have bonded with the yarn. I was pretty convinced that it was going to all wash out, but it truly didn’t. I have a definite colour gradient in my mittens! Hurray! The mittens themselves, while awesome, aren’t exactly perfect. They are still a bit big, especially at the cuff. I have to really stuff them in to my coat sleeves. But man alive are they warm and pretty fabulous looking if I do say so myself. I was so excited to show them off that I created a pretty weak excuse for why my husband and I had to go in town. (I said that I needed more sugar free syrup.) A proper project post about the mittens will be coming shortly.

 

So, in terms of yarn dying…

  1. I will absolutely be doing this again, and on a larger scale I think. I also intend to go at this at a much more controlled scientific way as well. I have been looking online for different sources of ready-to-be-dyed yarns and proper dyes, and I have a number of different ideas circling around inside my head for what I want to do. Expect more posts about me dying yarn.
  2. Dying yarn + knitting + felting = big bang for your buck in terms of how much enjoyment you get from one project. I can see how adding in the extra step of spinning your own yarn could extend that even further, but I am not ready to cross in to that dangerous territory (despite it being on my list of things I want to do this year.)
  3. Gloves are unbelievably important. I normally am not one who minds having my hands dirty or dyed or yucked up in one way or another, but having everyone at work make “What the hell happened to you hands?!” comments gets old. I will be getting gloves.
  4. My yarn swift (a recent gift from my in-laws!) made this way way way easier as well. I think a yarn baller would also be of great help, just in terms of balling up the finished product in a pretty way, but the swift is a bit of a must have if you ask me.
  5. Dying the tweedy Fishermen’s Wool worked well and in a pinch it absolutely works, but I want to try dying pure non-tweedy wool next to be able to get a more true, unmuddled colourway.

Part one of my yarn dying experiment

Part two of my yarn dying experiment

Project notes for the completed mittens using this yarn 

 


EXPERIMENT: Dying my own yarn (part 2)

20150203_174022My hands are pink. Very pink. First they were green, now they are pink. So I guess that is the first point I want to make: Please god, use gloves and rinse your yarn very thoroughly to get off any unbonded dye. Ugh. I guess in terms of whether or not this experiment made my hands turn colours this has not been a big success. HOWEVER! In terms of whether or not I was able to make awesomely dyed yarn, this has been EXTREMELY successful.

After the first dye the balls looked pretty cool but due to my not balling them tightly enough and due to my having squished them repeatedly the dye ended up penetrating really far in to the balls and they became borderline solid coloured. The blue in particular really penetrated through, which would have been fine except I had been hoping for more of a colour gradient/ombre thing to happen.

Undeterred I gave the yarn a good rinse and then reballed the yarns, this time in the opposite direction so that they (slightly) lighter sections were on the outside. I gave them all a bath in some pink dye with the hopes of creating a pink – yellow gradient and a blue-purple gradient.

Mission accomplished.

The gradient turned out wonderfully, much better than I anticipated I’d be able to accomplish!

Now, before I get all excited and proud I do need to admit that the red dye hasn’t set particularly well. I tried very hard to rinse the yarn properly to get off the excess dye but clearly I didn’t do a good enough job because the dye is still coming off on my hands while I knit with it. Once I’m done knitting them I will try to give them a proper soaking and rinse, but regardless I’m expecting the dyes (especially the pink) to mellow out quite a bit when I felt them. Maybe it won’t, who knows, but I’m concerned.

I am about halfway through knitting up my project using this yarn. The first mitten is just about done and pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the colours merge and blend when they are felted. Even if the colours mute out some, the colour transition should be pretty fantastic.

 

Part one of my yarn dying experiment

Part three of my yarn dying experiment